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.
33: Matthew Jackson, LB (Sr.) — Eastern Kentucky
Jackson is returning for his sixth year at EKU after back-to-back standout seasons. He is a long, rangy linebacker that can cover a lot of ground quickly. Jackson can lay the wood, is solid in pass coverage, and can line up on the edge too. Needless to say, he has next-level potential and a massive 2022 campaign is expected.
It wasn’t until his redshirt junior year that Jackson made a big impact on the defense. The Colonels played nine games in the 2020 fall, including three FBS opponents (Marshall, West Virginia, and Troy). In eight games, Jackson led the team with 79 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder went off last fall. He totaled 102 tackles, 11 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and eight passes defended in 11 games. Jackson was named to the All-ASUN Team and finished 16th in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award.
Jackson is a preseason All-American caliber player heading into 2022, and we rank him the No. 9 returning FCS linebacker.
EKU was 6-2 at one point last season until back-to-back 14-point losses to playoff teams Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. The Colonels then beat Jacksonville State 39-31 in double-overtime to finish 7-4. They were one of the first three teams left out of the postseason bracket the following day on Selection Sunday. With 12 returning starters, including eight on offense and Jackson leading the defense, EKU is in the playoff hunt again in 2022.