What's in a number?

Maybe it's because of sheer boredom, but with only baseball to slate our sports appetite, and of yeah, Soccer, of course, I did something I have done every year, but never really took too much notice of. Jersey numbers. Kids change them all the time it seems, and the updated roster has a few interesting ones.

Players leave, players arrive and sometimes you get to wear the jersey number you wore in high school. Sometimes you don't. Well, there might be a few of those as junior Zac Lee goes from being No. 3 to No. 5, which happens to be his number prior to arriving at Nebraska. Here's a few others as we try and bide our time until something more interesting happens.

At No. 1 we have senior Chris Brooks, who has had this number since he arrived. No. 1 at Nebraska is actually a dubious number to have considering some of the history. That was why when I saw sophomore cornerback Alfonzo Dennard wearing the jersey number his freshman year, I was thinking that he was putting a curse on him before he ever played a game. But following the departure of Steve Octavien, who wore number 15 during his Husker career, Dennard donned that number last season. I was a bit worried when he once again had the No. 1 jersey on over Spring, but there he is, back at No. 15.

Junior Adi Kunalic doesn't seem to be afraid though, as he now wears No. 1. Not sure who the last kicker to wear that number was, but best of luck as he tries to reverse the curse.

As I already mentioned junior Zac Lee is now wearing No. 5 as he wasn't going to get it while Marlon Lucky is still here. But taking his number from last year is true freshman Taylor Martinez. Another interesting note on Martinez is that for awhile he was listed on the official site as an athlete, but now finds himself listed as a quarterback. Kind of what we expected, but there it is in cyber-ink, so to speak.

Taking the No. 2 jersey on defense is another true freshman, cornerback Lazarri Middleton. Former Husker Cortney Grixby may not have gotten the credit he deserved while he was at Nebraska, but in that pint-sized player reside some big shoes to fill in regard to the number.

Antonio Bell keeps his Spring jersey number (2), former Husker quarterback Patrick Witt vacating it when he opted to transfer from the program.

Freshman wide receiver Khiry Cooper keeps the No. 6 jersey he claimed after he arrived, shortly before his stint with the baseball team. Quick trivia question: the last receiver to wear the No. 6?

Kenny Cheatham, who finished his playing days with the Big Red in 1999.

Junior quarterback Latravis Washington vacated the No. 7 on defense when he moved over to offense and had the guts to take the No. 15. In my opinion that's another number which should be permanently retired. But that No. 7 now goes to junior college transfer, cornerback Dejon Gomes.

The next somewhat interesting one is freshman defensive end Jason Ankrah, who will wear No. 9. One doesn't often equate the defensive-end position with single digits, but as recently as 2003 we saw that as Benard Thomas donned No. 5 after switching from No. 10 which he wore for the first couple of years of his Husker career.

Here's another trivia question for you, and it's a tough one: The last defensive end to wear a single-digit number prior to Thomas?

George Guidry, a Lake Charles, Louisiana native who wore No. 9 as a freshman in 1997.

Senior wide receiver Menelik Holt will continue wearing No. 18. I only bring this up, because I believe he changed his jersey number during last season perhaps three times. I actually lost track. He was No. 4 for awhile, and I believe he had a number in 20s or 30s at one point. But for now anyway, it's still No. 18.

Freshman running back Rex Burkhead will be No. 22, which was running back Cory Ross's number as a freshman, before he ultimately changed it to No. 4.

Freshman running back Tray Robinson is wearing No. 27, the number wore by fellow and former running back Kenny Wilson. Sometimes I still sit and wonder what that young man could have done had he not broken his leg moving that TV. That single video clip during Spring practice wasn't Susan Boyle-esque, but it created quite a stir.

What might have been.

Redshirt freshman defensive end Cameron Meredith now wears No. 34, that number held by former Husker running back, former linebacker Cody Glenn, who was signed not so long ago to play linebacker for the Redskins.

Just think about that for a second, that Cody Glenn, who came in as a running back, found himself relegated to short yardage situations and then the bench as a running back, leading the team in tackles last year up to the point he was suspended from the team. Imagine if he played the whole season or if he had played an entire career at Nebraska at that position.

Of course, the No. 34, especially as it relates to the defensive end position, isn't a small deal. Some guy named Trev Alberts wore that number,  both as an outside linebacker in the old Nebraska defense and then as an end when the Huskers switched to the "4-3."

As you no doubt heard during the Spring, redshirt freshman Quinton Toailoa went from defense to offense, but that didn't stop him from keeping the No. 50.

Lydon Murtha's No. 76 will go to another giant, someone even bigger (I didn't say taller) than Murtha himself. Standing closer to 6-6 than his listed height of 6-7, Qvale weighs in at 330 pounds, rivaling that of former Husker and current New York Jet Matt Slauson, who weighed anywhere from 315 to 340 pounds, depending on whether he wasn't or was living out his "Chipotle" phase.

Freshman tight end J.T. Kerr now wears No. 89, that number held by Hunter Teafatiller, who also played tight end and graduated this last season.

Latravis Washington certainly didn't do himself any favors throwing on the No. 15 and playing quarterback. But you could argue that redshirt freshman Josh Williams was equally unkind to himself as the defensive end now wears No. 98.

Of course Zach Potter wore this number prior to Williams taking it over, and many of the same conversations came up when Potter took that number as a true frosh. There is likely never to be another quite like Wistrom. So, best of luck to Williams as he tries to carve his own niche' as a defensive end for the "Blackshirts."

You know it's the off-season when we are talking about jersey numbers. But then again, this is Nebraska. We might talk about it even if it was the middle of the actual schedule.

OK, maybe not

The following is a list of the true freshman from the class of 2009, what number they are wearing and who the last player was to wear it on the same side of the ball:

Player

Pos

No

Player Prior
Jason Ankrah

DE

9

LB - Austin Stafford (2008)
Nick Ash

OL

70

OL - Matt Slauson (2008)
Antonio Bell

WR

2

QB - Patrick Witt (2008)
Rex Burkhead

RB

22

RB - Cory Ross (2003)
Jesse Coffey

OL

71

OL - Jake Andersen (2004)
Andrew Green

DB

11

LB - Ira Cooper (2004)*
Cody Green

QB

17

WR - Todd Peterson (2008)
J.T. Kerr

TE

89

TE - Hunter Teafatiller (2008)
Eric Martin

LB

46

S - Ben Eisenhart (2007)
Taylor Martinez

QB

3

QB - Zac Lee (2008)
Lazarri Middleton

DB

2

S - Major Culbert (2008)
Cole Pensick

DL

62

LB - Mychael McClure (2008)
Brent Qvale

OL

76

OL - Lydon Murtha (2008)
Thaddeus Randle

DL

53

LB - Tyler Wortman (2008)
Dontrayevous Robinson

RB

27

RB - Kenny Wilson (2007)
Jeremiah Sirles

OL

57

OL - Conan Fredinburg (2005)
Dijon Washington

DB

10

CB - Fred Thorne (2003)
Chris Williams

LB

48

LB - Marcus Smith (2008)
C.J. Zimmerer

RB

31

RB - Austin Jones (2008)
*Justin Rogers was originally slated to play running back, and left the team after Spring practice

 

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