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September 18, 2012

Numbers Game

By: Jimmy Robertson

A few stories behind the jersey numbers of certain Tech football players

Have you ever wondered why some players choose a particular jersey number? Why, for instance, does J.R. Collins have the number of a running back, or why Marcus Davis has the number of a quarterback?

In some instances, players simply take the number handed to them by equipment manager Lester Karlin when they arrive on campus and never change, even though upperclassmen get the first choice in picking any vacant numbers. For others, their jersey numbers have a special meaning.

1 Antone Exum – “I was going for 7 when I first got here, but Marcus [Davis] had that number. I remember that I went to the equipment room one day to get fitted for my pads, and Lester was in the back. I saw his sheet, and I knew that Macho [Harris] was graduating. So I thought I could get 1, and I asked Lester, and he told me he’d have to talk to Coach [Jim] Cavanaugh. I was eventually able to get it.”

3 Logan Thomas – “In my 10th grade year, I wanted a single-digit number and it [No. 3] was the only one available, so I took No. 3 when I got here. There’s no story, really.”

7 Marcus Davis – “I wanted No. 11. That was the number I wore in high school, but Dyrell [Roberts] had it. Then, when I first came here, I was 4, but I didn’t feel like I was a good fit for that number. I wore it for a year and then I changed to 7. Plus, I knew I was going to have a shot at quarterback, and I thought 7 was a good number for that. It had some excitement to it, and I’ve kept it since.”

8 Detrick Bonner – “All my life, I had a low number, even when I played Little League, so I did not want a high number at all. The No. 8 was the only option. I didn’t want 5 because Tyrod [Taylor] had it, and I just left that on offense and took 8. It seemed like most of the 5’s have been on offense. I was 5 in high school, and I wanted something different.”

9 Randall Dunn – “I changed my number because I felt like 13 was a bad number, with everything I had gone through. It was the number that was given to me when I got here. But I picked 9 because I wanted to change things up. It was time to start over and go in a different direction.”

11 Dyrell Roberts – “I wanted No. 1, but Macho [Harris] decided to come back for his senior season. I was a big fan of Percy Harvin when he was at Florida, and that was his number. So I took 11. I thought about trying to get 7 because that was my number in high school, but I decided that 11 was for me, and I didn’t want to change.”

17 Kyle Fuller – “I actually had No. 49 when I came into camp. When I found out I wasn’t redshirting, I didn’t really want it, so I went to Lester, and the best number they had was 17. It was 17 or 49, so I had to go with 17, and I actually like it now. I fell in love with it, and thought it looked good on me, and I’m going to continue to try to make it look good on me.”

18 D.J. Coles – “I actually wanted No. 10, but it was retired [Frank Loria, who was an All-American in 1967 and later died in the plane crash that killed most of Marshall University’s team], so I went with 18. I learned that 10 was retired on my official visit here. I always like No. 10. In high school, I was No. 7, but for some reason, 10 stood out to me. There’s no reason behind it. I wanted to wear it in college, but it’s retired, so I moved on to 18. I don’t know why, really.”

20 Michael Holmes – “I have a little brother, and when we first started playing football, he had No. 1 and I had 2. When we got to high school, he had 21 and I had 20. So it’s kind of a little brother thing with me. We had those numbers just to be together, and I’m just carrying it on.”

24 Tariq Edwards – “I always wore 13 in high school and my brother wore 11, so 11 plus 13 is 24, and then me and my girlfriend got together on the 24th of March. Also, my favorite basketball player, Kobe Bryant, is No. 24. So it was the perfect number for me.”

34 Kyshoen Jarrett – “In high school, I was a tailback and I wore No. 34. In middle school, we went undefeated, and then I wore the number in high school, so it meant a lot to me. Also, I liked Ricky Williams [former NFL tailback] growing up. He had the dreads, and he was an elusive back, so I used to have the dreads and I tried to be like him. I like the way he played.

“The funny thing is that Ryan Williams [former Tech tailback] left early [for the NFL], and I was able to get No. 34 because of that. If he had stayed, I’d probably be No. 23.”

42 J.R. Collins – “They didn’t have many numbers to choose from. They had three, and I chose No. 42 because my mom was 42 years old at the time, and I look up to my mom a lot. That’s the story behind my number. I wore No. 11 in high school, but Dyrell [Roberts] had that number, and he wasn’t going to switch.”

43 Jeron Gouveia-Winslow – “Just growing up, Troy Polamalu [safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers] has always been my favorite player. He’s a safety, and I came in as a safety. My freshman year, there was only 30 and 43 available, so, of course, I wanted 43. My freshman year, my hair was the longest it had ever been. It was down to my neck – I was growing it out just to be like him [Polamalu]. I had the ‘43 look’ going. It was cool at the time. But that’s why I chose 43, and I’ve kept it since.”

51 Bruce Taylor – “There are absolutely no stories behind my number. I went in, and Lester gave me No. 51, and I’ve been 51 ever since. I thought about changing. I wanted 24 because that was my high school number. Once I found out we could switch numbers the next year, Tariq had come in and taken No. 24. I didn’t know what 24 would look like at linebacker, but then I saw it on Tariq and it looked sweet. I wish I had gotten it. I thought about trying to get him to switch, but he’s made a name with 24 and I’ve made a name with 51, so we’re going to let it ride.”

54 Nick Becton – “Lester gave me 54, and I think it’s because I was going to play on the defensive line at first. Then the coaches moved me to the offensive line, and I decided to keep it. It’s not a bad number. The lower [the number], the better.”

58 Jack Tyler – “When I came to get my locker the first day I was here, it [No. 58] was the only number under 100 that was available in the entire locker room, so I kind of got stuck with it. I was 5 throughout high school, but I knew I wasn’t going to get that – Tyrod [Taylor] had it. It [No. 58] was the only number left, and now, it’s my number.”

76 David Wang – “I was 68 in high school, but [former guard] Jaymes Brooks had that. The other number I wanted was 67, but Michael Via had that. So I looked at other number choices, and I picked 76. I liked the number. I’ve worn it before one time, and the locker was close to my brother when I was a freshman. I could have changed, but I like having my number. It’s consistency that I like.”

98 Derrick Hopkins – “The first of the year, Lester said, ‘You’ve got 98.’ So I took 98 and kept it. I’m not really a jersey and number guy. I just put a jersey on and go with it.”

99 James Gayle – “Honestly, when I first got here, they gave it [No. 99] to me. I was a little mad. In high school, that’s not a number you really want. But it kind of grew on me, so now, I like it. I could have gotten a single-digit number this year, but I decided to stick with 99. I feel like it’s my image now. I was thinking about getting No. 9, but I decided to stick with 99.”