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Photo Credit: Eric Francis

New Huskers and New Jersey Numbers: The Good, the Weird, and the Curious

April 09, 2021

We got this question in the mailbag this week.

What is the most interesting with new football numbers? (@InDaWilderness) 

*Cracks open notebook*

*Cracks knuckles*

This is the content I’m here for. 

First, a rundown of the new numbers. 

New arrival players: 6 Samori Toure, 7 Latrell Neville, 10 Heinrich Haarberg, 12 Marques Buford Jr., 13 Kamonte Grimes, 14 Mikai Gbayor, 15 Malik Williams, 18 Wynden Ho’ohuli, 19 Seth Malcom, 22 Gabe Ervin Jr., 24 Thomas Fidone, 26 Koby Bretz, 30 Randolph Kpai, 30 Markese Stepp, 31 Chris Kolarevic, 50 Jailen Weaver, 59 Henry Lutovsky, 63 Ru’Quan Buckley, 65 Teddy Prochazka, 80 Shawn Hardy II, 81 James Carnie, 86 AJ Rollins, 

Number changes from returning players: 0 Pheldarius Payne, 0 Jaquez Yant, 4 Myles Farmer, 7 Tamon Lynum, 17 Jimari Butler, 21 Marvin Scott III

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the question. We’ve got thoughts from several of Hail Varsity’s voices on which number choices were most interesting. 

Mike Babcock: Outside linebacker Pheldarius Payne wearing No. 0.

Brandon Vogel: The trend for wide receivers has been toward the single-digits for a while now, which was the cool, contrarian approach, say, 10 years ago. Now that ubiquity makes me long for a classic, NFL-style wide receiver number in the 80s. Therefore, No. 80 Shawn Hardy II is my pick for most interesting for evoking Jerry Rice and, in a more direct way, Kenny Bell.

Greg Smith: Since Mike took Payne, give me the other No. 0. Running back Jaquez Yant wearing No. 0 will be interesting. It could be part of a great story of him making a push for playing time after walking on.

Erin Sorensen: I love the No. 0. I’m automatically drawn to anyone who takes it. The number is one that requires a little extra swagger, in my opinion, so I’m excited to see Payne and Yant put the number to use. With that said, one number I’m surprised wasn’t selected in the new numbers is No. 1. It was previously worn by Wan’Dale Robinson (and Tyjon Lindsey before him). I would have thought someone would have taken it, but it’s available as of now.

Derek Peterson: Samori Toure getting six is a sportswriter’s dream. Presumably he’ll be catching touchdowns this season. So, you know… And I like skill guys wearing single-digit numbers, it’s just aesthetically pleasing for a reason I can’t really defend. The smaller number looks sleek, and the guys who don them just immediately feel faster to me because of it. I don’t know. 

But, to Brandon’s point, the trend has been for college wideouts to horde those single-digit numbers of late. Conversely, you see the best wideouts in the NFL wearing numbers in the teens.  Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins wear 10, Julio Jones wears 11, Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen and Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. all wear 13, Amari Cooper wears 19. I dig it. 

And Nebraska has a few wideouts now in the teens. Zavier Betts of course is 15, and everyone has high hopes for him. Will Nixon is wearing 12, and I’m curious to see what the coach’s kid can do once he gets his long-awaited shot. Because of the straight-up star power in the league sporting the No. 13, I’m drawn to the 6-foot-3 Kamonte Grimes getting it at Nebraska. Who knows…

I would like to know what Thomas Fidone offered Marvin Scott for the No. 24. It’s the number he wore in high school, but it was taken at Nebraska when he arrived, and the highly-touted tight end wound up with it anyway. Those stories are always interesting to me. Some guys just willingly give the number up, some rebuff all offers, some milk it for all it’s worth. Maybe we’ll get that story. 

Javin Wright currently has Randolph Kpai’s high school number, 33, so Kpai opted for 30. I was really hoping he would take the No. 1 shirt available to the defense. If the trend on offense is for wideouts to grab the single-digits, I want the linebackers to do the same on defense. 

Conversely, defensive linemen Jailen Weaver and Ru’Quan Buckley taking numbers you’d typically associate with offensive linemen is curious to me. Weaver is absolutely massive, so now he’ll stand out for two reasons. 

And there’s Heinrich Haarberg. He gets the number he wore in high school, and the number worn by the guy he tries to model his play after—LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. It’s a good number for a quarterback. 

One of the most interesting things, in all honesty, is that neither side of the ball presently has a No. 1. So unless someone changes in the summer, we’ll go into the season without a No. 1, which feels strange. 

As for the guys who switched numbers, I like Myles Farmer going to No. 4. 

When we talked to defensive backs coach Travis Fisher about Farmer’s game a week ago, Fisher said when the young safety got hot in the first half against Northwestern early in the season and picked off two passes in the second quarter, Fisher said Farmer was gunning for a third. When the number change was revealed, my brain immediately went “More for 4.” So, yeah. 

Thank you for letting me talk about my weird fascination with jersey numbers. In conclusion, Nebraska needs a new No. 1, Kamonte Grimes will be the next great NFL wide receiver, and Myles Farmer should not be 4gotten in the secondary discussion. I’ll see myself out.

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