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.
21: Justin Ford, DB (Sr.) — Montana
Ford is wearing No. 6 this season
Montana faces its biggest expectations in years as a preseason Top 4 team in the FCS. More specifically on the team, the defense has expectations to be one of the best units the FCS has seen recently.
Looking at our Top 25 returning players by position series this summer, the Grizzlies have the No. 15 DL Alex Gubner, No. 23 LB Marcus Welnel, No. 1 LB Patrick O’Connell, No. 2 safety Robby Hauck, honorable mention CB Jayden Dawson, and the No. 1 CB Justin Ford. Keep in mind there are thousands of players at those positions in the subdivision.
Montana ranked No. 8 last season in FCS scoring defense (16.3 points allowed per game), No. 2 in turnovers gained (30), No. 5 in team sacks (44), and No. 3 in team tackles for loss (106).
Ford was a tremendous addition to the unit, transferring from Louisville two summers ago. After a two-game spring season, Ford became a top-tier cornerback in the country last fall, leading all of college football with nine interceptions. Two of those nine picks were returned for TDs as he also totaled 20 passes defended. He had an incredible streak of eight straight games with an interception.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder took home numerous All-American First Team accolades. He also finished fourth in Buck Buchanan Award voting, right behind teammate O’Connell.
Ford decided to return to Montana this season even though he was gaining some 2022 NFL Draft buzz. It’s a big win for a Montana team loaded with veteran talent ready to take the program to heights it hasn’t seen in too long. Ford is now firmly on the 2023 NFL Draft radar as Josh Buchanan’s No. 34 small-school prospect and NFL Draft Diamonds’ No. 2 small-school prospect.