The unique 2021 FCS spring season is right around the corner. The first game is scheduled for Feb. 13 (McNeese State 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
Christian Elliss, Idaho
An NFL prospect, Elliss is a two-time All-Big Sky selection (Third Team in 2018 and First Team in 2019). In those two seasons, the 6-foot-3 and 233-pounder combined for 185 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.
Bryson Armstrong, Kennesaw State
Armstrong has a long list of accolades: 2017 Jerry Rice Award winner, three-time All-Big South First Team selection, 2019 All-American, and 2019 Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year. The HERO Sports spring preseason First Team All-American has a career 284 tackles, 34.5 TFLs, 17 sacks, five interceptions, and 16 passes defended.
Forrest Rhyne, Villanova
A HERO Sports spring preseason First Team All-American, Rhyne was all over the field making plays in Villanova’s 2019 run to the playoffs. He totaled 116 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks.
Jacob Roberts, North Carolina A&T
This was a toss-up between Roberts and his teammate Kyin Howard. Howard is a big, physical middle linebacker, while Roberts is tremendous on the outside. The 2019 HERO Sports freshman All-American recorded 62 tackles, 12 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions, and three passes defended.
Bryce Flater, Northern Iowa
Flater was named to the spring MVFC Preseason Team after a dominant 2019 campaign. He led the conference and finished third in the FCS with 143 tackles while adding eight tackles for loss.
Chris Outterbridge, Sacred Heart
Outterbridge stepped up in a huge way for Sacred Heart in 2019. He led the team with 80 total tackles, highlighted by three straight games of double-digit tackles. He also tallied five TFLs.
Zack Woodard, Jacksonville State
Woodard elevated his game in 2019, starting all 12 games and being named to the All-OVC Second Team. He led JSU with 96 tackles and added seven tackles for a loss.
Ryan Greenhagen, Fordham
Greenhagen is a HERO Sports spring preseason First Team All-American. He was a 2018 freshman All-American and a 2019 sophomore All-American while combining for 188 tackles, 33.5 TFLs, and 12.5 sacks.
Colby Campbell, Presbyterian
Presbyterian has joined the PFL from the Big South beginning with the spring season.
Campbell was a HERO Sports 2020 fall preseason Second Team All-American. In 2019, he set a Big South record for single-season tackles with 150 while adding 16.5 TFLs and nine sacks. The tackling machine also had 90 tackles in the 2018 season.
Willie Eubanks III, The Citadel
Eubanks was named to multiple All-American teams in 2019, along with earning SoCon Defensive Player of the Year honors. After totaling 80 tackles in 2018, he racked up 112 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, and four sacks last season.
Alexis Ramos, Southeastern Louisiana
Ramos transferred to Southeastern Louisiana in 2019 and made an immediate impact. The All-Southland Conference Second Team selection led the team with 80 tackles and added 10.5 TFLs and five sacks.
Keonte Hampton, Jackson State
Hampton earned several All-American honors in 2019 and was named this spring’s SWAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, he totaled 106 tackles, 13 TFLs, and 4.5 sacks.
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