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.
86: DJ Stevens, TE (Sr.) — Jackson State
Stevens was a breakout player for the 2022 JSU offense that ranked No. 7 in FCS scoring (37.7 points per game).
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end caught 37 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns. His 37 receptions were the third most for the Tigers. Stevens was a reliable and consistent target, catching at least one pass in all 13 games and at least two passes in the final six games, including a touchdown catch in the Celebration Bowl.
Stevens earned All-SWAC Second Team accolades. And he’s expected to have an even bigger role in 2023.
JSU will have a new starting quarterback this fall, and the Tigers also lost their top four wide receivers from 2022. Stevens should get plenty of targets.
“Next to the quarterback in this offense, tight end is the most difficult position to learn,” JSU offensive coordinator Maurice Harris said in March. “It’s probably our most valuable position because we can do so much formationally. We can do so much with those guys. DJ was locked in today. He made some really good plays for us out there on the field. I’m excited about DJ.”
The Tigers and first-year head coach T.C. Taylor have had a lot of roster turnover this offseason, losing around 18 players to the FBS while bringing in roughly 16 FBS transfers and 13 FCS transfers. There is a lot of talent coming in, but the returning leadership will also be key in JSU reaching its high expectations, led by players like Stevens, who is No. 6 in HERO Sports’ top returning FCS tight ends ranking.