Head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s emphasizes bringing accountability to the Virginia football program, speaking often about players’ roles are "earned, not given." Under his policies, the team hasn’t been able to take things for granted anymore; that includes basic parts of their uniforms, like the v-sabre logo (earned a month ago) and their numbers, which were missing until today. (The team was VERY fortunate to earn their numbers just in time for the first game of the year. A forfeit would have been embarrassing.)
Sixty-one members of the roster have been assigned numbers, all of which are available to view over at VirginiaSports.com. Numbers aren’t all that interesting (to me at least), but Coach Mendenhall’s novel treatment of them gives us something to pry into. Here are a few takeaways:
- Not everyone has a number yet.
Sixty-one players may now have a number listed next to their name on the team roster...but that also means that 41 players still don’t have one. The majority of this group is true freshman, none of whom received a number in the initial batch. Just three of the 41 players awaiting numbers are juniors or seniors (two of whom are walk-ons). Obviously, guys will all have numbers before the week is up, assuming they’ll be eligible to play against Richmond, and UVA Athletics’s Twitter account noted that:
Last night 61 Cavaliers earned their numbers! ✅ them out https://t.co/CtxtbWL6L3 ... MORE members of #HoosRising⚔ to earn numbers this week!— Virginia Football (@UVa_Football) August 28, 2016
2. There are tons of changes.
Coach Mendenhall and the team apparently did not take into account the integrity of Streaking the Lawn’s "Countdown to Kickoff" series, where we’ve been profiling each player by number for the past 3 months. For example, of the nine returning players who wore numbers of seven or less, six have now swapped. Be alert when you’re watching the game against Richmond, or conversations like this - "Hey, why is #22 Jahvoni Simmons lined up behind Benkert?! Oh, wait, that’s Daniel Hamm!" - will be common.
3. And there are some nontraditional ones too.
The team was quick to nab the single digits, and they weren’t confined to the traditional QBs, RBs, and kickers. (Though NFL defenders must always be above 20, and higher depending on position, there are no NCAA rules on numbers for defensive players). Two likely defensive line starters picked 1 (Donte Wilkins) and 9 (Andrew Brown), and two linebackers are between 10 and 19. On the other end of the spectrum, the nineties include kicker Dylan Sims (91) and QB Joe Spaziani (99). Not everything’s too strange though - starting quarterback Kurt Benkert will wear number 6.
Here’s the full list of numbers earned so far: