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
57: Lewis Matthews, LB (Sr.) — Grambling State
Matthews has gone from a walk-on to one of the best defenders in the SWAC.
His breakout season came in 2022, racking up 103 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and two sacks. His 9.3 tackles per game tied for the 27th most in the FCS, and it ranked No. 2 in the conference.
Matthews had a PFF overall defensive grade of 82.2. He was solid defending the run and the pass with an 83.0 run defense grade and a 78.8 coverage grade. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder was named to the All-SWAC Second Team.
His 82.2 grade is the 15th highest for a returning FCS linebacker.
The Tigers finished 3-8 overall last season and 2-6 in the SWAC.
“Lewis Matthews, Ryan Fields, Chris Daigre, Quincy Mitchell … I know what they’re capable of now,” second-year head coach Hue Jackson said. “And I know they give us a chance to become a better team … I’m excited about where we’re headed and I’m excited about what we’re doing. I have a big vision and can see what we have to do and where we need to go, and that’s my job – to lead it that way. And I think we’re going to get there.”