In sports, if you’re wearing a No. 0 on your jersey, there’s a reason for that. Coach didn’t just give that to you. You picked that. Russell Westbrook, one of the greatest point guards of our generation—and there will be no debating of this point so sit down over there in the back Jacob Padilla—wears 0 and has since college because in both college and in the NBA he’s sought fresh starts and blank canvases. Zero gave him that.
College football, for the first time, is going to allow players to wear the No. 0 on the field. The ones who will be the first in history to wear it are going to do so for a reason—some probably because they’ll be the first one to do it—beyond just being given the number upon arrival.
So help me if teams just hand it off to a punter…
While I can’t presently speak for why each of these fives guys would actually pick zero, here’s the five who feel most likely to do it on Nebraska’s roster.
WR Omar Manning: The JUCO wideout doesn’t yet have a number with the team, for one. Easy move there, as he’d theoretically get first dibs at it when he gets on campus in the fall (knock on wood). Before coming to Nebraska he was wearing No. 1, and I don’t think Wan’Dale Robinson is giving that up lightly, so he should be in the market for a fresh start. The growing trend of wideouts grabbing single-digit numbers or numbers in the teens is another reason to look at Manning. Also, “0” for Omar.
One of Nebraska’s outside linebackers: Garrett Nelson feels more like the “I don’t really care, lemme hit someone” type, and 44 is already a pretty solid linebacker number, but someone in the front seven is going to have to wear this No. 0. Caleb Tannor is already a single-digit kinda guy, as he’s cycled through Nos. 4 and 2 already in his short Husker career. JoJo Domann feels like he would be a perfect fit. With injury after painful injury, how many times in his playing career has Domann been written off?
NT Damion Daniels: I mean… right? How is a 340-pound mountain of a man wearing the No. 0 not a match made in heaven? Defensive linemen wearing single-digit numbers is a sight to behold. Dominique Easley wearing No. 2 at Florida was a bad man. Javon Kinlaw wore No. 3 last season at South Carolina and became a top-10 NFL Draft pick. Ohio State opponents still see the back of a No. 2 “Young” jersey in their nightmares. Put the big man in a little number and let’s see if, now that big brother has moved on to the league, he can fill that void with some big plays.
DB Cam Taylor-Britt: D’Angelo Russell once said, “I wear No. 0 because that’s how many people can guard me.” That’s confidence of the highest order. Feels like a prerequisite of being able to wear a number like 0 is an overabundance of confidence in yourself. Of anyone on the list so far, Taylor-Britt might be the leader in the clubhouse there. The defensive back has swagger. It could also be a nod to his positional flexibility; no lockdown spot, just an everywhere man. If he wanted to really take things to another level, he could come out and say, “I wear No. 0 because that’s how many people how can beat me.” Of course, it would probably be best if he didn’t say that before the season. We’ll no doubt get a chance to see if that’s actually a factual statement in-season, though. Maybe save it for like Week 11 or Week 12.
RB Dedrick Mills: “I wear No. 0 because that’s how many people can tackle me.” That one checks out. Feel free to tweet that right now, Dedrick.
Just Missed the Cut: I really wanted to advocate for Adrian Martinez taking the No. 0. I really did. It would mess with the “2AM” brand he’s building, though, and he probably stands to make a good bit of money with that. But a quarterback wearing it feels right. For this specific quarterback, it could serve as a reminder of the doubters, and there’s a long list of them this offseason. It could represent a clean slate. (I think I’ve overused that already.) Someone would absolutely have used a “Zero to Hero” headline in the fall but that would be a risk I would have been willing to take.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.