I always thought y'all was a special nerd.
Mike Lantry, 1972
All-Americans and presidents: the future of ALL our recruits.
Every year during Spring Practice, because I'm exactly that kind of geek, I start trying to predict what the jersey numbers will be of incoming freshmen. This probably started back when I was still buying annual versions of the EA Sports game that they're still labeling a year off, which meant my virtual freshmen needed to be in iconic jerseys while real freshmen were in prom suits/coed naked t-shirts/whatever they're wearing these days.
This is an exercise fraught with danger, and likely to be 80% to 90% incorrect given all of the variables like current players changing numbers, walk-ons getting shoved out of the way, numbers with special meaning, and the randomness of the universe, etc. What we have to go on are the traditions of the coaching staff (for example Rodriguez was much higher on repeating digits between units; Hoke seems more like Carr in limiting these), high school numbers, birthdays, actuary tables, and the general availability of digits.
Let's start with what's not available. I'm guessing it's unlikely that a freshman is going to receive a "Michigan Football Legend" number (so far that is just 21). I'm also giving walk-ons the benefit of the doubt if someone from another unit is already wearing their number. (Right: from SI's best college player for each number)
Numbers they can't have: 1 (Edwards scholarship goes to current players), 4 (Steve Wilson and Cam Gordon), 5 (Justice Hayes and Courtney Avery), 7 (Gardner and Hawthorne), 8 (Bellomy and J.T. Floyd), 11 (retired for Wisterts), 14 (Jack Kennedy and Josh Furman), 27 (Jon Keizer and Mike Jones), 38 (Thomas Rawls and Al Backey), 40 (Nate Allspach and Antonio Poole), 47 (retired), 48 (retired), 57 (Elliott Mealer and Frank Clark), 87 (retired), 98 (retired).
Special Teamers' numbers: You can't have two players with the same number on the field at the same time, so very rarely will you see a special teams starter's number shared with another player, else that player might not be able to play on special teams if needed. The exception here is quarterbacks (e.g. former KOS Troy Nienberg shared 10 with Clayton Richard in 2003 and '04). Special teamers who don't start don't count (e.g. Nienberg shared 6 with Victor Hobson and Alijah Bradley in '01 and '02). This year those numbers are 34 (Gibbons), 43 (Hagerup), 45 (Wile), 46 (Broekhuizen), and 54 (Jareth Glanda, long snapper and sometime immaculate receiver).
How Do the Football Legends Work Now? 21 is open on both sides of the ball.
Available on Defense Only: These are the numbers already held by scholarship players on offense. They are unlikely to be used because Hoke doesn't seem to like repeating numbers across units: 2, 10, 12, 16, 17, 26, 28, 33, 36, 52, 56, 58, 60, 65, 75, 77, 80, 83, 89, 94.
Available on Offense Only: 3, 6, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 30, 32, 35, 37, 41, 44, 49, 55, 67, 73, 76, 88, 90, 92, 95, 97
Just a Walk-On in the way: Walk-ons who make the two deep often change their numbers; those who don't often have a scholarship player take their numbers. There are exceptions; for example Mike Kwiatkowski is working his way into the tight end rotation and it's not like anyone desires 81 that much. I left out Burzynski who's on the projected two-deep already. The rest: 13 (Alex Swieca), 19 (Charlie Zeller) 23 (Floyd Simmons), 42 (Dylan Esterline), 61 (Graham Glasgow), 69 (Erik Gunderson), 70 (Kristian Mateus), 81 (Mike Kwiatkowski), 85 (Joe Reynolds), 93 (Chris Eddins), 96 (Baquer Sayed), 99 (Paul Gyarmati).
Currently Unused (Most Likely to be taken): 9, 15, 29, 31, 39, 50, 51, 53, 59, 62, 63, 64, 66, 68, 71, 72, 74, 78, 79, 82, 84, 86, 91
So here's the dudes who need numbers:
|Name||Pos.||# in HS||Tea Leaves||Best Guess|
|A.J. Williams||TE||88||n/a||88 – Open on offense; Roh will be gone next year.|
|Allen Gant||S||7 and 14||Father Tony wore 14||14 – Not filled with confidence re: Furman (I don't know any more than you do)|
|Amara Darboh||WR||15||Wore 415 at Nike Camp, favorite athlete is Carmelo Anthony who wore 15 in Denver||15 - book it.|
|Ben Braden||OL||51||Wants to play right away||51 - it's open now so why not|
|Blake Bars||OL||67||Wore 542 at Army game||72 - Honestly I'm just assigning OT numbers.|
|Chris Wormley||DE||47||Wore 842 at Nike camp, 44 in hoops||84 or 68 – This one has me stumped.|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB/KR||21||Wears 2 for hoops team, wore 80 at BoMW camp. Received his Michigan offer on 2/1. Born on 2/8||21 if available, or 31 - I don't know how they'll use Legends numbers now. If freshmen can have them it's an easy pick.|
|Devin Funchess||TE||5 and 15||No. 5 TE according to ESPN||85 - Move over Joe Reynolds.|
|Drake Johnson||RB||2 and 18||Was a QB at first and chose 18 for Peyton Manning, then 2 for Woodson. His college # will be someone good||32 or 6 or 23 - Drake is well versed in M RB lore|
|Erik Magnuson||OL||77||77 in US Army game, 714 at NFTC, 74 at Nike camp, 31 in hoops||78 - See Bars|
|James Ross||LB||6||Born 6/26. Wore 34 at Intl Bowl||36 – Going out on a limb with this one.|
|Jehu Chesson||WR||5||Wants the 1. Wore 357 at Army Bowl, 164 at NFTC||82 - with an eye on changing one day?|
|Jeremy Clark||S||2||Born 6/29||29 - Woolfolk-ish player, birthday, open, fits.|
|Kyle Kalis||OL||67||67 here, 67 there, 67 everywhre.||67 - Brink has it on D so no problem|
|Mario Ojemudia||DE||53||Twitter (when he had it) was @akaRio53||53 - Another easy fit.|
|Matthew Godin||DT||62||Was 774 at Nike, 408 at Army Combine||62 - it's available|
|Ondre Pipkins||NT||71||Publicly says he will wear 56 for Woodley||56 - book it|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||10||Wore 10 at Army Game. Twitter handle has 10 in it. Wore 54 at Intl Bowl||10 - seems special to him for some reason.|
|Sione Houma||FB||35||Is a fullback.||41 or 32 or some fullbackian number|
|Terry Richardson||CB||3 and 6 and 9||Wore 28 in Intl Bowl., #1 at UA Bowl. One of 9 kids.||9 – pretty good guess.|
|Tom Strobel||DE||36||40 and 52 in Basektball.||63 or 93 or 86.|
|Willie Henry||DT||74||Not much out there on him.||74 or 68 - (YMRMFSPA Mike Martin) so why not.|
Guess away. If we can be 50% correct when these things are announced in late July/early August, well, we'll be really special nerds.
I always thought y'all was a special nerd.
Since Braden is probably going to end up at tackle, wouldn't he get a number in the 70s?
Seth, your wife must put up with a lot. That is a lot of special analysis you've done here. Don't tell me you play fantasy baseball and Settlers of Catan too!
Nicely done. I'd just like to say -- and this really isn't a complaint -- that I am REALLY uncomfortable about any speculation as to Josh Furman's future based upon something that, well, I don't know any more than you do, Seth. I totally get the fact that Seth wasn't predicting anything. And the Tony Gant history with #14 is a relevant and informative part of this post. I just have a feeling, that Josh Furman is going to be playing a lot more good football at Michigan. I don't want to get into favorable predictions any more than others might engage in negative speculation. It's just that based on what (little) is publicly known, Josh Furman should enjoy a strong presumption of innocence. Not because we are fans of Michigan football, but because that is the law.
I enjoyed this analysis probably way too much. Nice mixture of pure speculation peppered with cold, hard data. This is a winning post for those of us who endlessly peruse the annual Michigan numerical roster top-to-bottom, enamored with the numbers matching with names, hometowns, and high school affiliations.
I hope RJS gets #10. There's something about a stud collegiate LB with a low # on his jersey that is very appealing.
I enjoyed this..probably more than I should have. I might need some rehab, because all of this is exceedingly entertaining
Richardson will clearly be 12. Who doesn't love a good pattern?
Thanks for putting so much work into this.
How much choice exactly do the new guys have when they pick their number from the available options? I'm curious how this works. Do they request a number, and then the equipment staff/coaches see if that works, and then resolve any conflicts/multiple requests for the same #?
If Treadwell goes blue, does that mean we'll finally let somebody wear the #1 again?
Hoke: "We'll see..."
But what about....
I always thought a good Fullback number would be like...44 or something similar. As a bulldozer of types, I would think that a FB should not have the numeral "1" in it anywhere. Call it a visual perception type of thing...
44 is Syracuse's magic fullback number, so it tends to feel like a fullback should wear it.
Not a reply to you, but if I'm Hoke I would never make a #1 jersey again. Too much drama for a number.
I totally see your point about the drama aspect, but why deprive the next generation of Michigan fans their own memories of a great #1 WR?! As an 80's baby, mine was David Terrell. Even purchased his , I cannot believe I'm repeating this, Bears jersey.
glad I'm not the only one who made a spreadsheet like this. Here are some of my predictions that differed from yours
Co-Ed Naked T-shirts! Classic
thought i saw a picture of LLT wearing 72....just saying
The sight of the uncluttered blue facemasked helmet on Woodley makes me dislike the current ones that much more.
Better get Levenberry in the fold before we hand out 10 to RJS.
OL numbers run 50-79, regardless of position, since they frequently change position through their career. I think 72 would be a great choice for someone who hopes to be ending up at OT, since Dierdorf wore it. Been a while since I've noticed that number on a starting OT.
I agree Kalis with 67 and Braden with 51 are mortal locks.
Started at RT last year
|Name||Pos.||# in HS||Tea Leaves||Best Guess|
|Allen Gant||S||7 and 14||Father Tony wore 14||17 – Furman will be back|
|Amara Darboh||WR||15||Wore 415 at Nike Camp, favorite athlete is Carmelo Anthony who wore 15 in Denver||15|
|Ben Braden||OL||51||Wants to play right away||51|
|Blake Bars||OL||67||Wore 542 at Army game||76 - Flip It|
|Chris Wormley||DE||47||Wore 842 at Nike camp, 44 in hoops||99 - Crap shoot and Paul Gyarmati plays offense|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB/KR||21||Wears 2 for hoops team, wore 80 at BoMW camp. Received his Michigan offer on 2/1. Born on 2/8||21 if available, or 31|
|Devin Funchess||TE||5 and 15||No. 5 TE according to ESPN||25 or 85|
|Drake Johnson||RB||2 and 18||Was a QB at first and chose 18 for Peyton Manning, then 2 for Woodson. His college # will be someone good||6 - will switch to 2 after V. Smith leaves|
|Erik Magnuson||OL||77||77 in US Army game, 714 at NFTC, 74 at Nike camp, 31 in hoops||78|
|James Ross||LB||6||Born 6/26. Wore 34 at Intl Bowl||26 - Born on 6/26, shares # with Dileo|
|Jehu Chesson||WR||5||Wants the 1. Wore 357 at Army Bowl, 164 at NFTC||3|
|Jeremy Clark||S||2||Born 6/29||12|
|Kyle Kalis||OL||67||67 here, 67 there, 67 everywhre.||67|
|Mario Ojemudia||DE||53||Twitter (when he had it) was @akaRio53||53|
|Matthew Godin||DT||62||Was 774 at Nike, 408 at Army Combine||62|
|Ondre Pipkins||NT||71||Publicly says he will wear 56 for Woodley||56|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||10||Wore 10 at Army Game. Twitter handle has 10 in it. Wore 54 at Intl Bowl||10|
|Sione Houma||FB||35||Is a fullback.||25 or 30 (currently occupied by only Demens & Gordon)|
|Terry Richardson||CB||3 and 6 and 9||Wore 28 in Intl Bowl., #1 at UA Bowl. One of 9 kids.||9|
|Tom Strobel||DE||36||40 and 52 in Basektball.||63 or 93|
|Willie Henry||DT||74||Not much out there on him.||74|
Pipkins has said in the past few months Mattison won't let him wear 56 because he wants the D-line to be in the 80s or 90s.
I'm guessing it's unlikely that a freshman is going to receive a "Michigan Football Legend" number
And I pretty much discounted it, because, well, they're not the sharpest pencils. But since you seem to theorize it, and you're much smarter than they are, what do people think?
I didn't think this "Legend" thing was to make the numbers like #1, to be handed out on special occasions. I thought the whole point of it was to honor the player who made the number most famous, but still be able to USE the number. The #1 is so rarely doled out now it's almost defacto retired. Some seem to think that it's being saved for someone special to earn it. But then what great receiver gets 21, which gets 1, and which is more "valuable"? And really, beyond that political nightmare, doesn't it limit who can wear it by position? Doesn't that leave out guys like Biakabutuka who wore 21 at a different position?
I think they should pass it out like the regular numbers, but the patch is there to remind everyone that this particular numbers ISN'T just another number, and have that player, no matter the position, give the speech on who wore that number and made it special. If you're going to only reserve it for great players you're A. not going to use it very much, thereby negating what the intent of honoring them and B. you're quite possibly never going to have anyone earn another "great number" to "honor" because you're switching your best players to numbers that are associated with someone else. That's fine for one number, the number one, but seems like a bad idea for what will be a handful of numbers in the near future.
But what do y'all think?
(And P.S. Norfleet being a return specialist makes him seem like the perfect candidate for 21)
I want some studly dude to step up and claim the #1 like Braylon did.
Hoke already said that after Vince leaves - he is saving #2 for a stud DB.
Thus - I hope Blake gets #2 in his junior year.