The unique 2021 FCS spring season is right around the corner. The first game is scheduled for Feb. 13 (McNeese at Tarleton State) and 22 games are scheduled the following week.
As of this writing, only a limited number of teams have opted out of the spring. With each passing day, it gets more likely this unprecedented season is going to happen. So it’s time to start looking at the top returning players.
This series will look at the top returning player at each position in every conference.
*Not included in these rankings:
- Conferences that have opted out as of the publish date
- Players on teams that have opted out as of the publish date
- Players who are in the transfer portal as of the publish date
Jared Schiess, Weber State
Schiess is a big body in the middle of Weber’s tough defense. At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, he played in all 26 games as a redshirt freshman and sophomore. In 2019 as a junior, he stepped into a starting role and was dominant. Earning First Team All-Big Sky honors, Schiess totaled 55 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.
Shaundre Mims, Charleston Southern
Mims had a breakout season in 2019 as a true sophomore. He led the Big South with 10 sacks and added 12 TFLs and 27 total tackles. The 6-foot, 276-pounder earned All-Big South First Team honors and was named a HERO Sports Sophomore All-American.
Kobie Turner, Richmond
A 2020 fall HERO Sports preseason First Team All-American, Turner is set for a huge spring season. He started all 12 games in 2019 as a redshirt sophomore. The 6-foot-3 and 275-pounder was a Third Team All-CAA selection as he racked up 71 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, and seven sacks.
Jermaine McDaniel, North Carolina A&T
McDaniel was on our fall preseason All-American First Team. His impact was immediate in 2019 after transferring from App State. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, he earned Second Team All-MEAC honors after totaling 40 tackles, 12 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks.
Jared Brinkman, Northern Iowa
Brinkman was a huge part of UNI’s standout defense in 2019. At 6-foot-2 and 290 pounds, he was incredibly productive in 2019 with 83 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, and seven sacks. Brinkman was named a fall preseason HERO Sports Second Team All-American.
Cory Hagerman, Merrimack
In its first season transitioning to the FCS, Merrimack got excellent play from Hagerman in 2019. He tied for the NEC lead with 9.5 sacks while recording 48 tackles and 13 TFLs.
Josephus Smith, Austin Peay
A fall preseason HERO Sports Third Team All-American, Smith is a tough man to block at 5-foot-9 and 285 pounds. He saw a breakout 2019 season where he was named to the All-OVC First Team. Smith totaled 51 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks.
Malik Hamm, Lafayette
Now a junior, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder has already had an illustrious career for the Leopards. Hamm earned Patriot League Rookie of the Year, All-Conference Second Team, and HERO Sports Freshman All-American honors in 2018. Last year, he was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, selected to the All-Conference First Team, and was on our All-American sophomore team.
In his first two seasons, Hamm has a combined 101 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 16.5 sacks.
Nick Friedel, San Diego
Friedel is a two-time All-PFL First Team selection. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder has a career 95 tackles, 18 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks. Friedel turned down offers from Big Sky schools like UC Davis and Cal Poly to play at San Diego, where he’ll now look to be a three-time All-Conference player this spring.
Devonnsha Maxwell, Chattanooga
In two seasons, Maxwell has racked up several awards: 2018 HERO Sports Freshman All-American, 2018 SoCon All-Freshman Team, 2019 HERO Sports Sophomore All-American, 2019 All-SoCon First Team. The 6-foot-2 and 295-pounder has a career 78 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, and 12.5 sacks.
Trace Mascorro, Sam Houston
Mascorro was named a 2020 fall preseason HERO Sports Second Team All-American. He transferred to SHSU in 2019 from UTEP. Mascorro went on to earn All-Conference First Team honors and was named the Southland’s Newcomer of the Year. He totaled 41 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, and five sacks.
Jerry Garner, Mississippi Valley State
Garner was named on the SWAC’s 2021 spring preseason First Team. In 2019, he was all over the place with 53 tackles, 16 TFLs, and nine sacks.
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