new jersey wholesale A Jersey With a Single Digit
In their spring and summer practices before this season, the players on Virginia’s football team wore uniforms without numbers. The Cavaliers’ new coach, Bronco Mendenhall, instituted the policy as a way to make players compete for and earn the jersey numbers they wanted.
So on a Saturday night in late August, a week before the season opener, the Cavaliers gathered in their locker room and held a draft to select their numbers, the order determined by players’ work ethic and performance in the off season.
Jordan Ellis, a sophomore running back, received the first pick. He wanted to choose No. 1 but instead stuck with 10, the number he wore last year. Ellis said he thought the senior defensive tackle Donte Wilkins, who had the second pick and desperately wanted No. 1, deserved it more.
“It’s like a big boy’s dream to get to wear the small number,” said Wilkins, who had worn 93 for the previous three seasons.
Some top high school players have even made the numbers a condition of the recruiting process.
“I’ve noticed over the years if it’s a great player, a college coach will go out of his way to get that number for the kid so they can land the kid,” said Tom Lemming, who has been covering college football recruiting since the 1970s.
Lemming added: “They’ll tell him, ‘I might come if I can get the No. 9.’ And then the coach will take that No. 9 away no matter who’s got it. They’ll work something out so they can get the player.”
Most college teams have more than 99 players on their rosters, so they often have offensive and defensive players with the same number since players with the same number cannot be on the field at the same time. At Alabama last season, that meant duplicates for Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9. But at places as varied as Michigan, Notre Dame and Temple, the demand for low numbers has grown so much that some coaches have devised reward systems to determine who gets them.
“If you have a single digit number,” Notre Dame wide receiver C. J. Sanders said, “it’s kind of a big deal.”
The new interest from defensive players aside, quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers remain the biggest single digit enthusiasts. The last four Heisman Trophy winners have worn single digit uniform numbers, and the trend is expected to continue this year, as most of the leading contenders Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (No. 8), Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (No. 4, which was unretired specifically for him), Washington quarterback Jake Browning (No. 3), Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (No. 4) and Peppers (No. 5) fit the mold.
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Sanders, a Notre Dame sophomore, wore No. 9 last season, but there was no guarantee that he would keep it. For the first time in his seven years in South Bend, Kelly did not announce the single digit roster numbers until this summer. He told a radio station that high school recruits had been pressing him about wearing single digits, so instead of promising them to anyone, he and his staff created a point system to track players on and off the field. Players who had the most points would be rewarded with single digit jerseys. Sanders was one of the top performers, and he traded his No. 9 for No. 3, which he had worn in high school.
Kelly had an entirely different plan for the biggest prize, No. 1. He told his players that he would alternate it each week, giving it to the player who most deserved it. But the plan did not work out as he had hoped; after the Fighting Irish started the season 1 3, Kelly discontinued the practice. No Notre Dame player has worn the number in the team’s last three games.
The competition for uniform numbers has panned out much better at Michigan, which is 7 0 and ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll. During preseason workouts, Coach Jim Harbaugh allowed several Michigan players to wear the same single and double digit jerseys. Before the season, he decided which players could keep their preferred numbers.
“Guys wanted to play their best every day in practice,” Michigan offensive lineman Erik Magnuson said. “Skill guys love the one digit numbers. It motivated them to work hard and be the best at their position.”
Temple, under the former coach Al Golden, was one of the first programs to have players compete for single digits. The Owls’ current coach, Matt Rhule, who was an assistant under Golden, reinstated the tradition when Temple hired him in December 2012. Players who wear Nos. 1 through 9 at Temple are considered by their coaches and teammates to be the toughest and hardest workers on the team.
Rhule and his staff chose the players the first three years, but this year they had the players vote.
“I didn’t just want to reward people because of what they did in high school,” Rhule said. “I didn’t want to give them a number just to try to get them to come here. I want everything to be earned.”
Star players are not the only ones with low numbers at Temple. Last season, the walk on fullback and linebacker Nick Sharga earned No. 4 even though as a transfer from Division II he had been ineligible to play in games the previous year.
“I thought it was really cool, something I really strived for that season,” said Sharga, who earned a scholarship this year. “I couldn’t play, so I just figured I’d go on scout team and just hustle and do my best.”
“I just fell in love with it as a kid,” Ellis said of No. 1, which he wore in high school. “I just like everything about it, just the way it looks on me.”