The countdown to the 2018 college football season is on. Four FCS teams are in action Aug. 25 as Duquesne takes on UMass, Prairie View faces Rice and North Carolina A&T and Jacksonville State square off in ESPN’s FCS Kickoff.
HERO Sports is going to count down each day by highlighting the best player in FCS football who wears the jersey number of the number of days to kickoff. You can find the running list of top players here.
*Note: Jersey numbers are from the 2017 season.
94: Jonah Williams, junior defensive lineman – Weber State
No, he isn't that Jonah Williams. But the rising junior at Weber State is nonetheless making some noise as one of the most capable playmakers on a defense that doesn't lack for talent.
Williams broke onto the scene during his freshman season. He started all 12 games for Weber and posted more than 50 tackles during his freshman year season, which also happened to be the first playoff year in Ogden since 2009. For his efforts, we put him on our 2016 Freshman All-America team.
Last year, as a sophomore, Williams' overall tackle numbers actually went down, and he didn't get the start in every game like he had the previous season. Still, his sack numbers jumped from 2 to 5.5, and he chipped in some blocked kicks and forced fumbles, too. The statistical regression seemed more closely linked to how stacked Weber's defense was, rather than relating to any sort of decline in Williams' play.
It's tough to see Williams' individual stats taking a big jump in 2018, simply because of what Weber brings back on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, Williams' 34 total tackles ranked him ninth on the team; six of the eight players who collected more takedowns are returning for this fall. The Weber defense is young and talented, and that leaves a lot of mouths to feed.
That doesn't mean we won't see more from Williams, though. The standout should continue to contribute in multiple phases of the game — check out the Weber highlight video below at 1:45, where he completely blows up a punt during last year's game with Sacramento State and returns it for a touchdown. If Williams can continue to contribute to Weber's defensive pressure in multiple phases of the game, Weber can push for some lofty goals in 2018. Playoff seed, anyone?
FCS Kickoff Countdown: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
CFB Countdown: The Best Player in FBS Football, 1-99