The future of FCS


Joshua Wineholt

Josh Davis finds an opening and stays ahead of the defenders. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

With the Big Sky Conference football season starting in just a few months, Athlon Sports preseason rankings have Weber State University as a 13th seed in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Coming out of last season with just above a .500 record, the Wildcats mostly dominated on the road, going 5–1 away and 1–4 from home. After ending the season with a 48–17 win over the University of Northern Colorado, Weber State has made significant changes to their roster and coaching staff.

Operating under offensive coordinator Matt Hammer’s system last season, the Wildcats’ offense will now play under the direction of Mickey Mental. Although the team lost star receiver and returner Rashid Shaheed, many key parts of the offense will be back for next season, including running backs Dontae McMillan and Josh Davis as well as quarterback Bronson Barron.

According to Athlon Sports, the Wildcats are poised to return as champions of the Big Sky conference once again, a feat they accomplished for four straight seasons from 2017-2020.

The preseason rankings place Weber State as the fourth best team in the Big Sky under the third-seed University of Montana, fourth-seed Montana State University and sixth-seed Sacramento State University.

With key returning players Patrick O’Connell and 2021 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Justin Ford, Montana’s defense is poised to lead the team to double-digit wins again. In addition to keeping key players on defense, the Grizzlies have added to their offense from the transfer portal by picking up San Diego State quarterback Lucas Johnson. As an Aztec, Johnson threw for 1,424 yards and 12 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 61.9%.

Just under Weber State on the rankings is 15th-seed Eastern Washington University. Replacing two-time offensive player of the year Eric Barriere is quarterback Gunner Talkington, a redshirt senior who’s played in 38 games during his tenure as an Eagle. Talkington will play alongside returning receivers Efton Chism III, Johnny Edwards IV and Freddie Roberson.

Weber State’s season will kickoff on Sept. 1 against Western Oregon University and start their in-conference play against Eastern Washington on Oct. 8.