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Nebraska Football

Power Ranking the New Huskers by Their Numbers

August 9, 2020

You’re stressed. I’m stressed. One guy wants to play. Another guy is worried about what playing might bring but more worried to say. One coach exudes conviction. Another expresses trepidation. Some claim to know what’s coming. All have no clue. Until 14 presidents sit down in a room and actually decide the plug should get yanked, we wait. 

Jeez, just typing all that has me feeling anxious. 

So. This is a worry-free zone for the next 1,000 words or so. No corona talk. No bad vibes. 

Instead. . .

I love Number Day. If you’ve watched the new season of Last Chance U on Netflix, there’s a scene very early on where the team gets their new numbers announced and everyone makes a big deal about it, it’s clear it’s not just a number on the back of a shirt. It’s an identity. Look good, play good, yes, but there’s personal significance in numbers. And, let’s just face it, some numbers on specific position groups look damn intimidating.

(Side note: do watch the new season of the show. It’s a much more enjoyable watch than before. Players you can root for as has always been the case but a coaching staff you can enjoy and a grind you can appreciate; JUCO ball shouldn’t be demonized and it shouldn’t be made to look like the last guy made it, so this has been a breath of fresh air.)

Nebraska dropped a video announcing new numbers on Aug. 5.

You know what that means. WE’RE POWER RANKING THE NEW NUMBERS.

(OK, it’s not actually a power ranking because I’m not gonna tell someone their new number sucks before they play a game, but there are some that are objectively cooler than others.)

The Wins

No. 4, Alante Brown (WR, FR): The move of pass-catchers from numbers in the 80s to single-digit numbers or those in the teens has been fun. The NFL is littered with incredible dudes wearing numbers in the teens, and college football has been imprinted in recent years by dudes wearing single-digit numbers. Most recently, Rondale Moore wore “4” and tore it up for Purdue. Alante Brown is another one of those fast-as-hell, shifty, elusive runners. NU fans are hoping there’s power in the number.

No. 6, Marcus Fleming (WR, FR): I vote all wideouts move to single-digits. Nice pick, Marcus. Remember De’Anthony Thomas? *Smiles*

No. 7, Dicaprio Bootle (CB, SR): Bootle’s old high school number. This has “Kevin Durant changing from 35 to 7” vibes for me. KD explained he changed numbers to “7” because it represents “completion” for him. Bootle’s in his last year at Nebraska, hoping to go out with a bang. I can get behind this.

No. 9, Marquel Dismuke (S, SR): Another guy going back to his high school days. Again, I look forward to hearing the significance behind the number. Nebraska’s defensive backfield will go 5-7-8-9 and that’s honestly pretty cool.

No. 11, Braxton Clark (CB, SO): My high school number. I’m required to give this high marks.

No. 15, Zavier Betts (WR, FR): Tebow, anyone? Will that get me thrown out? Michael Crabtree? That’s better. He wore No. 5 in college but 15 in the NFL, and that was a receiver who made some big catches in his career. Betts should do the same.

No. 24, Blaise Gunnerson (OLB, FR): I’m as bullish on the Iowa pass-rusher as literally anybody in this market. Now, even more so because KOBE. 

No. 24, Marvin Scott III (RB, FR): KOBE.

No. 28, Sevion Morrison (RB, FR): People told me he reminded them of Adrian Peterson in high school. He wore 28 then. We’ll see… (Big fan of Morrison’s game, potential.)

No. 87, Jordon Riley (DL, JR): This is weird as hell. I think I dig it.

The “Time Will Tell”s of the Bunch

No. 5, Omar Manning (WR, JR): It was too good to be true, I suppose. Omar Manning becoming the first Husker player in school history to don the No. 0 would have been incredible. Still time, but he’ll begin his career with a different look. I look forward to finding out the significance behind the choice. 

No. 8, Logan Smothers (QB, FR): Don’t make a Mariota joke. Don’t make a Mariota joke. Don’t make a Mariota joke.

No. 15, Ronald Delancy III (CB, FR): It's a very old-school quarterback-y number. We'll see.

No. 17, Keyshawn Greene (ILB, FR): Weird number for a linebacker. Obscure.

No. 22, Eteva Mauga-Clements (ILB, JR): Another weird number for a linebacker. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Greene sharing the field for this reason, among several others obviously.

No. 72, Nash Hutmacher (DL, FR): Zach Wiegert’s number, but on the other side of the ball. Hmm. Hutmacher is going to play a lot of meaningful snaps for Nebraska in the years to come, and he’ll do so wearing his high school number. This seems like it could potentially be a unique way to leave a mark at a place well-known for its linemen. We’ll see.

The Mehs

No. 6, Quinton Newsome (CB, SO): It’s all right. A huge chunk from the crop of returning defensive backs changed their numbers. They’re now pretty close to being sequential. That’s cool.  

No. 12, Tamon Lynum (CB, FR): I have no strong thoughts about the number one way or the other. The player, though… Travis Fisher has done a nice job being better than everyone else at his job, hasn’t he?

No. 32, Niko Cooper (OLB, SO): Barret Pickering got swole over the offseason. Alt caption: Niko Cooper is a large man and a single-digit number for him, a defender coming screaming off the edge, would have added to the fear factor. Zero was available. As was No. 1. Either would have been pretty cool for an edge rusher. Chase Young/Dominique Easley vibes. 

No. 35, Jimari Butler (OLB, FR): I have no strong thoughts about the number one way or the other. The player, though…

No. 49, Pheldarius Payne (DL, JR): I can confidently say I don’t remember a defensive lineman wearing a number in the 40s. This, too, is weird as hell. I don’t know how I feel about it. Again, I look forward to finding out the significance. 

No. 79, Alex Conn (OL, FR): I have no strong thoughts about the number one wa—oh, you know.

The Fodder for the Immature 

No. 69, Turner Corcoran (OL, FR): Nice.

No. 96, Marquis Black (DL, FR): eciN.

The Misses

Everyone, for no one selecting No. 0. 

We’ve seen from footage shared by the Husker football Twitter account that Luke McCaffrey is still wearing No. 7 on offense, and he was a strong candidate for snagging No. 0.

Demariyon Houston, a redshirt freshman wideout, wore No. 5 last season, so maybe he becomes No. 0 for the next campaign. Unclear. 

(My votes would have gone to Manning and Cam Taylor-Britt. I wrote about this exact topic in May because brand is important. Both will wear the same number, it’s just No. 5. Do I get partial credit?)

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