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Top 10 Returning FCS Defensive Tackles in 2024

The 2024 FCS football season is upon us and it's time to evaluate the best returning players at each position. The staff at FCS Football Central has submitted their rankings of the best FCS defensive tackles for next season. The submissions have been aggregated and players ranked by total points.

The rankings were created taking into account several factors, including film, on-field performance, career accolades, Pro Football Focus ratings and any other information available to voters.

Notable honorable mentions who received votes include Josiah Green of Dartmouth, Darren Cook of Delaware State, Izaiah Henderson of Maine, Matt Herron of Weber State, Darryn Kindles of Davidson, Brandon Maina of Wofford, Jeremiah Williams of Jackson State and Quantez Mansfield of North Carolina Central.

Below are the best returning FCS defensive tackles in 2024.

Jalen Bell, defensive player at Tennessee State

Tennessee State DL Jalen Bell / Zach McKinnell (FCS Football Central)

Bell only played in one game last season due to a season-ending injury, but he still made a big impact in Week 1 against Notre Dame, recording two tackles for loss for the Tigers. Bell began his career at Mississippi Valley State, where he was twice named All-SWAC. In his four seasons at Itta Bena, Bell recorded 113 total tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Stephen F. Austin, Defensive Player Edward Bobino III

Stephen F. Austin DL Edward Bobino III / SFA Athletics

Bobino has been a driving force in the Lumberjacks' infield over the past two seasons. He has been named All-Conference twice and earned All-UAC first-team honors last season. Over the past two seasons, Bobino recorded 94 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. In 2022, Bobino posted the fifth-highest run defense grade among FCS defensive tackles.

Defensive player James Ash of Florida A&M

Florida A&M DL James Ash / FAMU Athletics

Ash had a standout junior season for the Rattlers as Florida A&M won the first Celebration Bowl in program history. He earned All-SWAC honors after recording 32 total tackles, six tackles for loss and an interception. Pro Football Focus rated Ash as the No. 19 defensive tackle in the FCS last season. Ash was the highest-rated HBCU defensive lineman and finished the season with the sixth-best run defense rating in the nation.

Carson Primrose, Sacred Heart defender

Sacred Heart DL Carson Primrose (No. 2) / Greg Vasil (SHU Athletics)

Primrose transferred to Rhode Island after four seasons at Sacred Heart. He was named to the All-NEC second team for the second consecutive year after recording 45 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Pro Football Focus rated Primrose as the No. 7 defensive tackle in the FCS last season. He posted the second-highest pass rush rating among defensive tackles in the FCS. During his four seasons at Sacred Heart, Primrose recorded 100 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Nick Gaes, DL from South Dakota

South Dakota DL Nick Gaes / Aaron Mercado (South Dakota Athletics)

Gaes returns to the MVFC as one of the most experienced defensive linemen. Last season, Gaes recorded career highs in tackles (42), tackles for loss (10) and sacks (6). He began his career by earning Freshman All-American and MVFC All-Newcomer honors. In four seasons, Gaes recorded 111 total tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Caleb Williams, defensive player from Lamar

Lamar DL Caleb Williams / Lamar Athletics

Williams started all 11 games for the Cardinals last season and was named to the All-Southland second team. He finished the season with 57 total tackles, six tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus rated Williams as the No. 5 defensive tackle in the FCS last season. His PFF run defense grade of 90.2 was the third-best among all FCS defensive linemen.

North Carolina Central DL Jaden Taylor

North Carolina Central DL Jaden Taylor / NCCU Athletics

After beginning his career at Mercer, Taylor developed into one of the most successful defensive linemen in HBCU football. Taylor is a three-time All-MEAC selection, including a first-team selection last season. He finished last season with the eighth-highest run defense grade in the FCS. Over the last three seasons, Taylor recorded 143 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Dallas Afalava, defensive player from Idaho

Idaho DL Dallas Afalava / Idaho Athletics

Afalava made a big impression as a true freshman, earning honorable mention Freshman All-American and All-Big Sky honors. He led the Vandals with eight tackles for loss and was second on the team with five sacks. Afalava was ranked 12th nationally and the highest-rated defensive lineman in the Big Sky. He made his presence felt in Idaho's playoff run, recording eight tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks in just two games. Afalava has the potential to establish himself as one of the nation's top defensive players.

North Dakota State defensive tackle Eli Mostaert sacks Montana State quarterback Tucker Rovig during the FCS championship game

North Dakota State defensive tackle Eli Mostaert sacks Montana State quarterback Tucker Rovig during the FCS championship game / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After being limited to three games in 2022 due to injury, Mostaert returned with another all-conference season for the Bison. Mostaert was named All-MVFC three times and also earned Freshman and Sophomore All-American honors. Pro Football Focus rated Mostaert as the No. 8 defensive lineman in the FCS. Mostaert enters next season with 120 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.

Chattanooga DL Marlon Taylor

Chattanooga DL Marlon Taylor / Derek Daniel (Chattanooga Athletics)

Taylor has started 24 consecutive games for the Mocs and earned All-SoCon honors in back-to-back seasons. Last season, he recorded career highs in tackles (30), tackles for loss (9) and sacks (5.5). Taylor recorded the 10th-best run defense grade among FCS interior defenders, which earned him the No. 1 ranking in the SoCon. In his first four seasons, Taylor recorded a total of 68 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Taylor is expected to be one of the top FCS defensive line prospects in the 2025 NFL Draft.

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