What’s in a number?
Everything if you ask a football player. The old adage of “look good, feel good, play good” often starts with the number you are wearing. De'Quan Hampton wore the No. 89 last year, but went to Clay Helton during the offseason and asked for a new number.
“Hey Coach, get me out of this 89. I want that 13,” Hampton told Helton. “He was like 'I'll think about it. We'll see how you do in spring.' I'm like 'Alright.' Next thing you know, I just walked to my locker and it's right there. I was like 'Yea. Got my number!’
“I'm out of that nasty 89 and in the swaggy 13. Don't I look better? I know I look better. It just feels better too.”
Hampton had a big spring and, according to him, contributing to that was his number change. That Helton gave him a more desirable number gave him more confidence in himself and he played that way this summer.
But not everyone gets the number they desire. Some are taken already. (Damn that JV baseball coach that wouldn’t give up my number in high school.) Some are retired. (That one kept me from rocking the Randy Moss No. 84 in high school.) And others have to be earned.
Though the No. 55 has traditionally been given to a high-profile incoming linebacker, Cameron Smith apparently has done enough to earn the vaunted jersey number that Lamar Dawson left behind. Injuries kept Dawson from ever living up to the expectations of the historic USC linebacker jersey number, but the Trojans hope that won't be a deterrent for Smith, who is returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
But Smith's number has yet to be updated on the official USC roster. What the school has done is update the roster with the incoming freshmen and the numbers they will be wearing.
Already listed were the freshmen who enrolled early in Januray:
6 - WR Michael Pittman Jr. (Oaks Christian)
17 - WR Josh Imatorbhebhe (North Gwinnett - Ga.)
19 - QB Matt Fink (Glendora)
28 - DB C.J. Pollard (Gardena Serra)
78 - OT Nathan Smith (Murrieta Mesa)
93 - DT Liam Jimmons (Huntington Beach)
99 - DE Oluwole Betiku Jr. (Gardena Serra)
Here’s the new names on the roster, including freshmen and a couple of new walk-ons (non-freshmen noted):
1 - DB-WR Jack Jones (Long Beach Poly)
15 - QB Thomas Fitts - RS Fr. (Dallas Episcopal - Texas)
17 - WR-DB Keyshawn Young (Miami Senior - Fla.)
21 - WR Tyler Vaughns (Bishop Amat)
23 - WR Velus Jones Jr. (Saraland - Ala.)
29 - RB Vavae Malepeai (Mililani - Hawaii)
31 - DB Jamel Cook (Miami Central - Fla.)
41 - WR Milo Stewart - RS Jr. (Marywood-Palm Valley)
48 - LB Jordan Iosefa (St. Louis School - Hawaii)
65 - OT Frank Martin II (Mater Dei)
75 - OT E.J. Price (Archer - Ga.)
81 - WR Trevon Sidney (Bishop Amat)
86 - TE Cary Angeline (Dowington East - Penn.)
87 - TE Alec Hursh - RS So. (Pembroke Hill - Kan.)
90 - DE Connor Murphy (Brophy Prep - Ariz.)
98 - DT Josh Fatu - Jr. (Long Beach CC)
These numbers are subject to change since both of the players that are listed as offensive and defensive players aren’t the sole possessors of the number. If Jack Jones does indeed play some wide receiver, he and Darreus Rogers would not be able to wear the same number.
One solution is for the player to wear a different number when he is on one certain side of the ball, such as Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey throwing on a No. 17 jersey when he returned kicks since Kermit Washington was on kickoffs and also wore No. 8. But a number switch is much more likely.
A couple of notes on recent usage if those numbers stick:
- Tyler Vaughns is the first offensive player to wear No. 21 since Kyle Prater in 2011.
- Jack Jones is the first defensive player to wear No. 1 since T.J. Bryant in 2009.
- The last wide receiver before Velus Jones Jr. to wear No. 23 was Jordan Cameron in 2009 before he moved to tight end.
- E.J. Price has been bestowed the recent trend of a top offensive lineman wearing No. 75 taking over for Max Tuerk and Matt Kalil before him.
- The No. 31 has only been worn by fullbacks in the last nine years. Jamel Cook will break that streak this year and coincidentally the last defensive player to wear the number was another Jamel, Jamel Williams.
- If Josh Imatorbhebhe and Keyshawn Young keep their number and become contributors down the road, it will be the first significant offensive and/or defensive usage the number has had since Mike Morgan and Travon Patterson shared it.
- With Keyshawn Young being given No. 17, it tells you which side of the ball he will likely begin on, but if he ends up being an offensive player, a simple switch would be for he and Ajene Harris to switch jerseys. Harris remains No. 18 even though he appears to be defense only now and Quinton Powell is already entrenched with the number.
- Frank Martin II takes over the No. 65 from Erick Jepsen, but before Jepsen the number hadn’t been used by an offensive lineman since at least 2000.
- The No. 6 will look different catching passes rather than throwing them. The number has been worn by a quarterback every year since Mark Sanchez began wearing the number in 2005.
- After Robby Kolanz wore the No. 86 the last two seasons, the number returns to the tight end position where it was worn by future NFLers the prior 12 years.
- Surname suffixes will once again be prominent with the newcomers this year. USC already had a III (Leon McQuay III) and a IV (James Toland IV) on the roster before last season, but added Jrs. (John Houston Jr., Steven Mitchell Jr., Kenny Bigelow Jr.), a II (Ronald Jones II) and a III (Marvell Tell III). This season, the Trojans newcomers feature three juniors (Michael Pittman Jr., Velus Jones Jr. and Oluwole Betiku Jr.) and one II (Frank Martin II). Only Martin II had previously asked to be referred to with a suffix. If Antwaun Woods had another year of eligibility, USC could have also had a senior as Woods recently became a proud papa of a baby boy. https://www.instagram.com/p/BF1xgc1BhY6/?taken-by=antwaunwoods