Top 10 FCS players entering 2017 season
(STATS) - There are so many factors when ranking the best of the best FCS players: An explosive season. Consistent excellence over a career. NFL potential.
Basically any and every good reason.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the truth is any national power would gladly take one of the 10 best players in the FCS on its roster. They win games and championships.
It doesn't mean No. 11 or 12 isn't just as impactful, but it's hard to deny what these 10 players do for their FCS teams.
10. Brett Taylor, Western Illinois, LB, R-Sr.
2016 statistics: 134 tackles, 94 solo tackles, 8 1/2 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery
Why he belongs: Hometown product has rewarded Western Illinois with an average of 139 tackles over the last two seasons. He reached double figures in 10 of 11 games as a junior. Taylor (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) finished seventh in voting for the 2016 STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award.
9. Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State, DE, R-Sr.
2016 statistics: 48 tackles, 15 1/2 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 11 QB hurries, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble
Why he belongs: Jackson (6-3, 237) has helped Jacksonville State complete three straight unbeaten seasons in the Ohio Valley Conference. The conference's 2016 defensive player of the year faces double teams but gets into offensive backfields. He was fourth in the Buchanan voting.
8. Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T, OT, R-Sr.
2016 statistics: 48 pancake/knockdown blocks, no sacks allowed
Why he belongs: Already the MEAC's two-time offensive lineman of the year, Parker (6-7, 300) mixes strength and speed into a rather large but efficient package. He committed only two penalties as a junior.
7. Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State, LB, R-Sr.
2015 statistics (received medical hardship for 2016): 135 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 6 pass breakups
Why he belongs: Shoulder surgery ended his senior season after three games, but after getting injured in the opener, DeLuca (6-3, 248) had 15 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown in his final start against Eastern Washington. He's an NFL prospect with excellent fundamentals.
6. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State, TE, R-Sr.
2016 statistics: 92 receptions, 1,293 yards, 11 TDs; 1 rushing TD
Why he belongs: Perhaps no FCS player improved his 2018 NFL draft stock more last season that Goedert (6-4, 255), who was unstoppable in setting South Dakota State's single-season receptions record. A fluid route runner, he has wide receiver skills in a tight end's body.
5. Jake Wieneke, South Dakota State, WR, R-Sr.
2016 statistics: 78 receptions, 1,316 yards, 16 TDs
Why he belongs: A three-time FCS All-American and first-teamer in 2015, Wieneke (6-4, 215) has been the next-best thing to Cooper Kupp, the Eastern Washington legend who's now a Los Angeles Rams rookie. He enters his senior season with 223 receptions, 4,192 yards and 43 touchdown receptions.
4. P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State, DE, Sr.
2016 statistics: 56 tackles, 24 1/2 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 7 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles
Why he belongs: Hall (6-1, 280) has posted an incredible 36 sacks and 67 tackles for loss in his first three seasons, notching career highs as a junior. A three-time first-team selection in the Southland Conference, he was the runner-up for the Buchanan Award.
3. Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State, QB, R-Sr.
2016 statistics: 315 of 503 (62.6 percent), 4,602 yards, 57 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Why he belongs: Clearly the favorite to repeat as the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award winner, Briscoe (6-3, 220) is trying to become the second two-time recipient of the subdivision's most revered individual honor (Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards won in 2008 and '09). Downfield touch helped Briscoe set the FCS single-season record for TD passes.
2. Gage Gubrud, Eastern Washington, QB, R-Jr.
2016 statistics: 386 of 570 (67.7 percent), 5,160 yards, 48 touchdowns, 14 interceptions; 606 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns
Why he belongs: Gubrud's dual-threat ability gives him a slight edge over Briscoe. He set the FCS single-season record for passing yards and nearly set the mark for total offensive yards, finishing with an average of 411.9 per game. Gubrud (6-3, 195), who was third in the Payton voting, has to adjust without Kupp, the 2015 winner of the award.
1. Chase Edmonds, Fordham, RB, Sr.
2016 statistics: 257 carries, 1,799 yards (7.0 per carry), 19 TDs; 25 receptions, 272 yards, 1 TD
Why he belongs: With 5,285 career rushing yards, Edmonds (5-9, 210) is on pace to surpass former Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson's FCS all-time rushing record of 6,559 yards. He's a breakaway runner with 69 career touchdowns, hoping to add a Payton Award to his 2014 Jerry Rice Award as the FCS freshman of the year.