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
Connor Whitney, Idaho
In 2019 as a true sophomore, Whitney finished third on the team with 25 catches for 314 yards. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder caught two touchdowns. Expect him to get more targets as the No. 1 Big Sky TE is for the taking.
Gene Scott, Monmouth
Scott was a 2020 preseason All-Big South selection heading into the fall. He had just three catches for 26 yards in 2019 but was an extension of the offensive line and paved the way for the top rusher in the FCS, Pete Guerriero.
LJ Wesneski, Albany
Wesneski caught 21 passes for 277 yards in 2019, with seven of those catches going for touchdowns. His standout junior year was recognized with All-CAA Third Team honors.
Shawn McFarland, Norfolk State
McFarland earned All-MEAC First Team honors in 2019. He caught 15 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown while also playing a huge role in the rushing attack.
Noah Gindorff, North Dakota State
The NDSU tight ends were touchdown-catching machines last year. Gindorff is a huge target at 6-foot-6 and 266 pounds. He finished 2019 with 10 receptions for 170 yards and six touchdowns. The six receiving TDs were tied for the most on the team.
Bill O’Malley, Duquesne
O’Malley earned 2020 fall preseason All-NEC honors. He is a three-year contributor doing most of his damage blocking for Duquesne’s strong run game.
Trae Berry, Jacksonville State
Barry is a big-time weapon for JSU’s explosive offense. At 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, Barry was named a HERO Sports Freshman All-American in 2017 and earned All-OVC First Team honors in 2018. Last season, he appeared in only five games due to a season-ending injury.
He has more than 1,300 career receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Alex Snyder, Lehigh
Snyder started 11 games in 2019 as a true sophomore. The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder hauled in 23 passes for 355 yards.
Jacob Peters, Morehead State
After showing his ability to run block as a redshirt freshman in 2018, he contributed in the passing game last year with 11 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris James, Chattanooga
A HERO Sports 2020 fall preseason Third Team All-American, James transferred to UTC in 2018 after playing quarterback at the junior college level. He served as UTC’s backup QB in his first season on campus.
James converted to tight end in 2019, catching 23 passes for 257 yards while leading the team with seven TD receptions. He was named to the All-SoCon First Team.
Matt DeBlaiso, Southeastern Louisiana
The Lions had a great passing attack in 2019. Expect DeBlaiso to play an even bigger role this season as he was named to the preseason All-Southland Conference Second Team during the summer. Last year, DeBlaiso caught four passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Kendric Johnson, Alabama A&M
Johnson was named on the All-SWAC preseason First Team earlier this month. In 2019, he totaled 24 receptions for 275 yards and four TDs.
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