Welcome to the 2022 FCS Jersey Countdown. Leading up to the start of weekly college football odds and Week 0 games on Aug. 27, HERO Sports will name the best returning FCS player by jersey number, 99-0. Due to rosters being updated at different times for teams across the country and to keep things consistent, jersey numbers are based on last season’s rosters.
Note: Jersey numbers are based on 2021 rosters.
48: James Conway, LB (So.) — Fordham
Fordham’s lineage of standout linebackers continues with the emergence of Conway. After All-American LB Ryan Greenhagen (who is also returning this year) suffered a season-ending injury five games into last season, Conway stepped up as a young leader for the defense.
Conway had several options as a recruit out of Omaha. Dartmouth, Penn, Lehigh, Columbia, and Eastern Illinois showed heavy interest along with Fordham. Northern Illinois, Nebraska, and North Dakota State also showed some interest. He chose Fordham and was an instant impact player.
Conway racked up 131 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and one interception in 11 games. His 11.9 tackles per game ranked No. 2 in the FCS, and the 131 total tackles were fifth. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder adjusted just fine physically to the collegiate level. He was named a HERO Sports Freshman All-American and finished fifth in Jerry Rice Award voting, given to the top FCS freshman.
One of his best games was a 15-tackle performance against FBS FAU. He also had 21 tackles against Lehigh. Conway recorded double-digit tackles in eight of the 11 games.
With Greenhagen and Conway back, Fordham will have an elite duo at linebacker.