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.