We all know the Alabama’s, Clemson’s, and Georgia’s. There’s an overflowing amount of top-level division 1 football programs that house some of the highest-toted draft prospects.

Then you look at three of the top 5 receivers of all time; Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens. Did they go to those Power 5 schools? Not even close. Jerry Rice went to Mississippi Valley State, Jerry Rice went to Marshall, and Terrell Owens went to Chattanooga.

None of these schools are Power 5, and none of them are anywhere near contention for a playoff bid. Actually, two of them aren’t even in contention for the NCAA FBS championship.

This shows how valuable these lower level D1 schools really are. They play at a high level, produce NFL level talent, and sometimes forge some of the best NFL players in history.

The FCS schools need some love, especially right as the season begins. There are some incredibly talented squads, but my top 5 FCS schools are on another level, and could compete in the FCS if they had the opportunity.

3. Montana

Their offensive weapons haven’t been very good over the past season, but quarterback Kris Brown has a lot of potential at the position. He was the primary backup last year, but his stats during valuable minutes show he’s ready for a step up.

Kris Brown was a dual threat player, throwing for over 1k yards, 3 touchdowns, and 5 rushing touchdowns. When he gets more minutes and gets the ball in the air, it should be much more natural.

Sophomore running back Xavier Harris is back, rushing for over 600 yards as the team’s rushing leader. He played 10 of Montana’s 13 games last season, and could have hit 800 yards on the year.

Senior tackling machine Robby Hauck is back again, and so is Linebacker Patrick O’Connell. They both racked up over 100 tackles on the season to lead a dominant defense into 2022.

2. South Dakota State

This FCS school’s team was incredibly talented last year, but it’s difficult to put them any higher. With Chris Oladokun in the league, South Dakota State may have trouble with the passing output. Not only this, but Pierre Strong is also in the league as their leading rusher.

However, second leading rusher Isaiah Davis and leading receiver Jaxon Janke are still on the roster. These two were firepower players for the Jackrabbits, and will help bring the team back to form.

Mark Gronowski, redshirt sophomore is on his way back as the passing attack for the team. The reason I say the passing attack may be troublesome is beacuse he’s coming back from injury. However he is the real deal at quarterback, and is easily one of the best in the FCS when playing.

Lastly, Dalys Beanum on the defensive end is back for another year. He led the team with 4 interceptions last season, and brought 2 back for touchdowns. Most of their defensive unit is intact, which is one of their best features.

1. North Dakota State University

This FCS school is really not up for much debate. Even with a low-volume passing offense in an age of gunslingers, they still manage to be the best. This team is a rushing attack that can still put the ball in the air when needed.

Cam Miller is coming back as the team’s No. 1 QB, and TaMerik Williams is back as the leading rusher. They had 8 players with more than 200 rushing yards, 4 players with 500 or more, and 3 with over 600. The team is an offensive threat, and has most players back for another year.

Team interception leader and all-conference defensive back Dawson Weber is back again after being deemed a 2023 draft prospect. He had 4 picks on the season and still managed 50 tackles, holding down the defense.

Read more about college football.