LB - Jabril Cox (6-3, 233, R-Jr.) - North Dakota State
The athletic redshirt junior leads the list of a very talented FCS group this season. After facing questions on if he would enter the draft last season, he returns for his third season leading the Bison defense. Fresh off of another National Championship victory, Cox also took home Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year award.
Cox recorded a team leading 91 tackles last season that also included 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, four interceptions. The rangy athletic outside linebacker projects best on the weak-side , which is the new position that he has transitioned to this season after starting at SAM linebacker in 2018.
As a former high school quarterback and do-it-all option on defense his smarts, instincts, and awareness for the game are overflowing, which makes him a strong candidate to remain atop this list through season's end.
Game Spotlight: vs. North Dakota, 3:30 pm EST (Sept. 7)
SAF - Kyle Dugger (6-2, 220, R-Jr.) - Lenoir-Rhyne
A prospect that's received a lot of hype during the spring and summer evaluation process, Dugger remains a position-less player that is a jack of all trades option for the Bears. A First Team All-South Atlantic Conference as both a defensive back and return specialist a season ago, there remains mixed opinions on exactly what position he projects best as on the next level.
There are some scouts who believe his athleticism, physicality, and football IQ would best served as a linebacker while there are others that believe he has the speed and hip flexibility in order to remain as a safety. Regardless, a starter in all 14 games in 2018, he recorded 76 tackles, 13 passes defensed, and three interceptions.
Dugger's rise began after making an appearance in the top-20 of Bruce Feldman's Freak List. The annual list signifies a distinct group of some of the most athletic college student-athletes from around the country. After being placed on the list, Dugger was no longer an unknown.
Game Spotlight: vs. St. Augustine's, 6 pm EST, (Sept. 7)
CB - Manny Patterson (5-10, 180, Sr.) - Maine
The Bears cornerback has been on the field as soon as he stepped foot on campus in 2016, which led to him being named as the teams Defensive Rookie of the Year. Recording one of the best seasons from a defensive back in school history last season, Patterson amassed 47 tackles and a team-high three interceptions.
His greatest accomplishments came in coverage as he finished third in the country in pass deflections with 22. The clear leader in the secondary, he's already been tabbed as one of the best playmakers in the FCS. With another year of experience under his belt and entering his senior campaign, Patterson remains a high priority for scouts who are scheduled to checkout FCS action throughout the country.
Game Spotlight: At Georgia Southern, 7 pm EST (Sept. 7)