Welcome to the 2023 FCS Jersey Countdown.
Leading up to Week 0 games on Aug. 26, HERO Sports will name the best returning FCS player by jersey number, 99-0. Because team rosters are updated at different times across the country and to keep things consistent, jersey numbers are based on last season’s rosters.
Note: Jersey numbers are based on 2022 rosters.
48: James Conway, LB (Jr.) — Fordham
Just two years into college football, Conway already has 257 career tackles.
The Omaha native was a great recruiting get for Fordham. He received a lot of interest from schools like Dartmouth, Penn, Lehigh, Columbia, and Eastern Illinois. Northern Illinois, Nebraska, and North Dakota State also showed some interest.
His impact for the Rams was immediate as a true freshman in 2021.
Conway totaled 130 tackles, five tackles for loss, one interception, and four forced fumbles. His 11.9 tackles per game led the Patriot League and ranked second in the FCS.
Conway earned HERO Sports Freshman All-American honors, was named on the All-Patriot League Second Team, and finished fifth in voting for the Jerry Rice Award (best FCS freshman).
Last season saw Conway rack up 127 tackles, 11 TFLs, three sacks, and three passes defended. He earned All-Conference First Team and HERO Sports Sophomore All-American honors.
Some of his best games have come against top opponents, including 13 tackles vs. FBS Ohio, 11 tackles vs. ranked Holy Cross, and 13 tackles vs. New Hampshire in the playoffs last season, plus 15 tackles vs. FBS FAU in 2021.
Conway is on pace for 500+ career tackles, where he could flirt with the FCS record that is held by Illinois State’s Boomer Grigsby (550 career tackles from 2001-04).
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder is No. 14 in HERO Sports’ best returning FCS linebackers ranking.