While most of the fanfare and conversation about NFL Draft prospects traditionally surrounds high-profile FBS programs, schools at the FCS generate high-end talent every year, and prospects from those schools should not be overlooked. Each week, The 33rd Team highlights a handful of FCS standouts from small schools around the country. Here are 5 players who caught our eye in Week 9.
(R-So.) Eyabi Anoma, EDGE, Tennessee-Martin
Eyabi Anoma had his most disruptive game of the season with 8 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Anoma capped off his career day with a blocked field goal with 17 seconds left to seal the victory for UT-Martin.
Talent has never been in question for Eyabi Anoma. Coming out of St. Frances in Baltimore, he was a consensus top 5 recruit who signed his letter of intent with Alabama. His life got a little sidetracked the last few years, but it appears he may finally be finding his groove at the next level. In what’s been his first game action since 2018, Anoma has shown no signs of rust with 23 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 7 games.
(Sr.) Michael Jackson, WR, VMI
VMI senior Michael Jackson had one of the best days in program history with the 5th most single game receiving yards. He caught 10 of his 13 targets for 208 yards and the game winning touchdown with 3:14 left to put VMI up 46-45.
Jackson was effective everywhere on the field, but he did most of his damage on throws of 20-plus yards as he recorded an 86.4 deep receiving grade and had 93 of his 208 yards on deep passes. Additionally, Jackson was very important in helping move the chains as he had 7 1st down catches and was the highest graded receiver in the FCS last week on 3rd down (90.9).
Jackson’s breakout year continues as he’s now up to career highs across the board. After posting a combined 15 catches for 121 yards through his first two seasons, Jackson now has 51 receptions, 515 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns in 8 games this year.
(R-Sr.) Tristen Vance, LB, Northern Arizona
The highest linebacker grade in the FCS this weekend belongs to Northern Arizona’s Tristen Vance. He finished their 38-31 victory against Idaho with a game high 15 tackles along with 7 stops and 0.5 tackles for loss.
On 43 coverage snaps Vance earned a 90.4 grade (2nd highest of the weekend amongst all players) and didn’t allow a single pass to be completed against him. His impact was key on third downs as he had a 92.4 overall grade and 92.0 coverage grade on the most important down.
This is now Vance’s third consecutive game in which he’s posted north of 10 tackles. For the season, he has 61 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup. Vance and Northern Arizona will clash with top 10 UC Davis and their high powered running game in their next matchup.
(R-So.) Seth Morgan, QB, VMI
VMI QB Seth Morgan rallied his team past Samford this weekend for a 1-point victory and set an important record while doing so. Morgan broke the program record in total yards with 516 and had the second highest single game passing yards total with 463.
He finished the day going 27 of 41 for 463 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding 53 yards on the ground. He also tied with Northern Arizona’s RJ Martinez for the most big time throws in week 9 with 5. On throws of 20-plus yards, Morgan had 4 of 5 big time throws and had the best passing grade of any QB at 97.1 He frequently hooked up with his favorite target — Michael Jackson — who had nearly half of his deep receiving yards.
After taking over for VMI legend Reece Udinski late last season, Morgan was able to lead his team to their first conference title since the late 70’s. He completed 71% of his passes, three 9 touchdowns, ran for three and was top 10 in passing efficiency on his way to SoCon Freshman of the Year. Morgan will look to continue his stellar next week against East Tennessee State.