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 7.
(Fr.) Kobe Dillon, RB, Southern
Freshman running back Kobe Dillon was only given 14 carries on Saturday, yet he managed to break the SWAC single game rushing record. In the first start of his college career, Dillon amassed 267 yards while averaging an unbelievable 19.1 yards per carry and scoring 3 touchdowns. He had the most explosive runs this weekend (rushes of 10+ yards) with 6, was able to force 2 missed tackles, and was the highest graded offensive player in the FCS. His biggest play of the game came on his teams first drive of the third where he sprinted up the middle and ran for a 75-yard score.
Dillon’s record-breaking performance wouldn’t have been possible without the support of strong blocking. Three of the 4 highest graded run blockers in the FCS this weekend were from Southern and 244 of Dillon’s yards came before contact. After breaking the record set by former Southern great Lenard Tillery, Dillon will face off with Prairie View A&M in Week 8.
(R-Sr.) Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington
Eastern Washington standout Eric Barriere put up video game numbers Saturday with 600 yards and 7 touchdowns. It was the fourth most passing yards ever put in a Big Sky game and the ninth time that Barriere has crossed 400 yards in his career.
Barriere’s dominant season continued Saturday as he’s now put himself in better position to win the FCS Most Outstanding Player award. He leads all FCS quarterbacks in passing yards, passer rating, yards per attempt, total touchdowns, and is also PFFs highest graded QB (after being 2nd last year). He’s thrown for at least 3 touchdowns all but once and only has one game with under 300 yards passing. Barriere’s undefeated Eastern Washington team will take on Weber State at home next weekend.
(Sr.) Daniel Hardy, EDGE, Montana State
One of the most impressive pass rushing performances of the weekend belongs to Montana State EDGE Daniel Hardy. Hardy produced a season-high three sacks along with 8 tackles and a forced fumble. He was able to generate pressure on 20.7 percent of his snaps, which was a better rate than almost any other FCS defender over the weekend. Additionally, Hardy had a pass rushing productivity score of 17.2, showing once again how much chaos he caused in the backfield.
After putting on 20 pounds of muscle this offseason, Hardy is in the midst of a career-best season. In seven games, Hardy has put up 8 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 33 tackles.
(Sr.) Chase Foster, FS, Southern
With three interceptions on Saturday, Chase Foster broke Southern’s previous single game record. The senior defensive back’s performance was a key reason why they were able to hold Arkansas Pine-Bluff to just 7 points. When lined up in coverage, Foster was targeted 5 times and allowed 3 receptions for 41 yards. His performance in that area earned him the highest coverage grade amongst safeties in Week 7.
Foster finished the day as the FCS’ highest overall graded safety at 93.5. Through 7 weeks, he currently has the second best grade among safeties behind Western Illinois’ Michael Lawson.
(Fr.) RJ Martinez, QB, Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona standout RJ Martinez had the best day of his college career on Saturday. Martinez completely dominated Southern Utah, going 23 of 29 for 417 passing yards, 65 rushing yards, and 7 total touchdowns. Martinez led his team to over 700 yards of offense, which included touchdown passes of 75 and 73 yards. He finished the day with a perfect 158.3 passer rating. His biggest beneficiaries were wideouts Hendrix Johnson and Coleman Owen, who both had over 150 yards and two touchdowns a piece.
With more than half of the season done, it’s safe to say that Martinez has been one of the best freshmen in the FCS. His unbelievable campaign continues next week on the road against Sacramento State.