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.
87: Zach Heins, TE (Sr.) — South Dakota State
Heins is a massive target for SDSU at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds. He is one of several standout Jackrabbits from last season’s national championship team returning for their extra year/sixth season.
Heins announced his decision to come back for one last season in late January. Perhaps one factor in that decision was a broken foot he suffered during practice in Frisco before the national title game. Heins battled through the injury and helped secure SDSU’s first FCS championship.
Heins plays an important role in SDSU’s physical rushing attack that often features multi-tight-end sets. He’s also a big-time target as a receiving threat.
During the 2021 spring season, Heins caught 12 passes for 200 yards, averaging 16.7 yards per catch to earn All-MVFC First Team honors. In the 2021 fall, he recorded 24 receptions for 232 yards and six touchdowns. Heins was named an All-MVFC Honorable Mention.
Last season, Heins tallied 29 catches for 347 yards and four TDs. He became a three-time All-Conference selection with Second Team honors.
Heins stepped up when All-American and 2023 NFL Draft pick Tucker Kraft was out with an injury. In a big road win against then-No. 6 Missouri State, he grabbed seven catches for 127 yards and a score.
HERO Sports ranks Heins as the No. 2 returning FCS tight end entering this fall.
SDSU scored 42, 42, 39, and 45 points in its playoff run. The 45 points in the 45-21 win over NDSU are the most points scored in the national title game since 2007 when Appalachian State beat Delaware 49-21.