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.
8: Xavier Shepherd, QB (Jr.) — Kennesaw State
Shepherd is one of the most valuable offensive weapons in the FCS and will be a leading candidate for the 2022 Walter Payton Award. He makes Kennesaw’s option offense go, running it efficiently at the quarterback spot as a playmaker with his legs and a more than capable passer.
Shepherd emerged as the starter last season and had a dynamite year. In 13 games, Shepherd rushed 240 times for 867 yards and an FCS-leading 23 touchdowns as the Owls were third in FCS rushing offense (278.6 yards per game). KSU looked better in the passing game as well. Shepherd completed 77-of-123 passes for 1,341 yards, 15 TDs, and three interceptions. The 1,341 yards and 15 TDs were both school records for the young and run-heavy program.
Shepherd ranked third in the FCS in scoring (10.6 points per game) and seventh in total points responsible for (228).
The 6-foot, 205-pounder was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year and earned two HERO Sports All-American honors: Sophomore All-American QB and First Team All-American at the all-purpose spot.
Kennesaw has big expectations this year after going 11-2 with a trip to the second round, losing a comeback heartbreaker to ETSU in the final minute. The Owls, who are now a part of the ASUN-WAC joint football conference, haven’t been back to the quarterfinals since consecutive runs in 2017 and 2018. They are preseason ranked No. 8 in the Stats Perform media poll.
Shepherd leads an experienced team as HERO Sports’ No. 2 returning quarterback, a HERO Sports Preseason First Team all-purpose All-American, and a Stats Perform Preseason First Team All-American QB.