As the football season approaches, HERO Sports takes a look at the top returners at each position in every FCS conference.
The talent at quarterback in the subdivision is at an extreme high level this season with several NFL prospects. The top four leaders in passing yards and seven of the top 10 return from last season. [divider]
Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington – Gubrud came out of nowhere last season as a sophomore and quickly ascended to the top tier of FCS quarterbacks. His 5,160 yards passing ranked him No. 1 in the subdivision and his 48 touchdown passes ranked second. He loses three 1,000-yard receivers from last year, including third round NFL Draft pick Cooper Kupp, but Gubrud will continue to shine in EWU's pass-heavy offense. [divider]
Tyrell Maxwell, Gardner-Webb – The reigning Big South Conference Offensive Player is one of the most feared quarterbacks in the FCS when he decides to tuck the football and run. Maxwell led the conference last season in rushing yards (965 yards) and total offense (2,622 yards). The senior's completion percentage needs improvement at just 56 percent in 2016, though. [divider]
Bryan Schor, James Madison – Schor won't have the flashy statistics as some of the quarterbacks in more pass-happy systems, but he deserves recognition as an all-American-worthy player. His ability to extend and make plays was on full display in the FCS semifinals, where the Dukes ended North Dakota State's streak of five straight national championships. Schor, now a senior, finished last season with a ridiculous 73 percent completion percentage as JMU went on to win the national title.[divider]
Dalton Banks, Cornell – In his first season with a starting role as a sophomore, Banks put together an all-conference honorable mention season after leading the Ivy League with 18 touchdown passes. He was second in the conference with 265.5 total yards of offense a game. He only rushed for 141 yards, but did have five touchdowns to add another element to his game for defenses to respect. [divider]
Lamar Raynard, North Carolina A&T – Raynard enters his third season of starting and is now a junior. He earned all-conference second team honors despite having his season cut short in November with an injury. The 6-foot-4 quarterback threw for 1,489 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Raynard completed 64.6 percent of his passes, which led the MEAC and ranked ninth in the FCS. [divider]
Taryn Christion, South Dakota State – Christion was the MVFC's Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 as just a sophomore. Returning with him are two future NFL Draft picks at tight end (Dallas Goedert) and receiver (Jake Wieneke). With another year together, it's scary to think just how much better they can get. Christion passed for 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions last season. [divider]
Jacob Dolegala, Central Connecticut – Dolegala came out of nowhere last season as a sophomore to set the school record with 2,934 yards passing. His average of 266.7 passing yards per game was first in the conference and he also led the Northeast with 2,928 yards of total offense. Standing at 6-foot-6, Dolegala has what it takes to turn around the CCSU program, which went 2-9 in 2016. [divider]
Troy Cook, Tennessee-Martin – With Eli Jenkins' illustrious career at Jacksonville State done, Cook has an opportunity to become a top quarterback in the OVC. Cook started 10 games as a junior, throwing for 2,321 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He began his college career at Florida State before transferring to UTM in 2015. [divider]
Kevin Anderson, Fordham – A senior last season, Anderson was granted a fifth year of eligibility after sitting out his freshman season while at Marshall in 2013. The second team all-conference selection led the Patriot League with 2,724 yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions. A lot of people think of running back Chase Edmonds when it comes to Fordham, but Anderson is quite the player as well. [divider]
Anthony Lawrence, San Diego – Great defense was a big part in USD's huge upset over Cal Poly in the first round of the playoffs. But Lawrence's solid presence at quarterback shouldn't be overlooked. He threw for 2,998 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 67.6 percent of his passes. Now a junior, he was named to the 2017 preseason STATS FCS Walter Payton Award watch list. [divider]
Devlin Hodges, Samford – Hodges won the SoCon's Offensive Player of the Year award in 2016 as just a sophomore. He set school records with 4,088 yards passing and 36 touchdowns, which both ranked third in the FCS. Hodges led the Bulldogs to a playoff appearance, where they lost in the first round. But his 372-yard, three-touchdown performances against a terrific Youngstown State defense caught eyes. [divider]
Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State – Briscoe isn't just the best quarterback in the Southland Conference, he was voted the best offensive player in the FCS last season as the winner of the Walter Payton Award. He set an FCS record with 57 touchdown passes to go along with 4,602 yards passing. Say what you want about SHSU's strength of schedule, but NFL scouts have a watchful eye on the senior-to-be. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him the ninth best quarterback prospect for the 2018 draft. [divider]
Devante Kincade, Grambling State – The reigning conference offensive player of the year lit up the stat sheet in 2016, throwing for 2,999 yards, 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Kincade added 264 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He'll be relied on heavily again as the Tigers chase another HBCU national championship.