Welcome to the 2022 FCS Jersey Countdown. Leading up to 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.
10: Jaxon Janke, WR (Sr.) — South Dakota State
SDSU fans probably felt they would never see a WR-TE duo quite like Jake Wieneke and Dallas Goedert again. Goedert was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft while Wieneke signed an NFL undrafted free agent contract after setting MVFC career records in catches (288), receiving yards (5,157), and receiving touchdowns (59).
SDSU’s 2022 duo of TE Tucker Kraft and WR Jaxon Janke may not have the statistical numbers to match those two, but they are arguably more talented.
Kraft was recently ranked as the No. 79 overall prospect with a 2nd-3rd round projection in Draft Scout’s 2023 NFL Draft Top 150. And Janke has picked up considerable NFL buzz as well, ranked No. 9 in Josh Buchanan’s 2023 Top 100 Small School Prospects, which also features SDSU TE Zach Heins at No. 6, OL Garret Greenfield at No. 15, and WR Jadon Janke (Jaxon’s twin brother) at No. 37. Kraft is not on Buchanan’s list because he is only a junior and hasn’t declared yet.
Janke showed glimpses of his play-making ability as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He caught 29 passes for 353 yards and four TDs. He had another big impact as a HERO Sports Freshman All-American punt returner, totaling 289 yards and a touchdown on 27 returns.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder became the go-to WR in SDSU’s run to the spring season’s national title game. Janke had 32 receptions for 473 yards and six touchdowns, earning All-MVFC Second Team honors and being named a HERO Sports Sophomore All-American.
Then Janke truly emerged as a top receiving threat in the country last season. Janke recorded 72 catches for 1,176 yards and five TDs to earn All-Conference Second Team accolades. He had a string of six straight 100-yard games late the regular season, totaled 119 yards and two scores in the quarterfinals at Villanova, and had 97 yards in the semifinals at Montana State.
Coming off two deep playoff runs in a row and with the amount of experience and next-level talent SDSU has, the Jacks are ranked No. 2 in a majority of preseason Top 25 rankings. Janke is a part of a superb senior class eyeing an elusive national title. He’s a HERO Sports Preseason All-American along with several teammates and is ranked our No. 2 returning FCS wide receiver.