One of the more intriguing and controversial elements of coach Bronco Mendenhall’s system at the helm of the Virginia Cavaliers football program has been making the players earn their jersey numbers. But the practice does give fans some insight into which players have made the biggest strides and taken leadership in the offseason.
And for the second year in a row, we know Jordan Ellis has been one of those guys.
2 years consecutive JE as the 1st selector: Earned NOT given https://t.co/ES1dHkU1sH— UVACoachAtuaia (@UVACoachAtuaia) August 19, 2017
Ellis picked #1 overall, and knocked a zero off of his 2016 jersey number. The junior tailback is expected to take the bulk of the role left by current Baltimore Raven Taquan Mizzell.
There are three seniors who did not select numbers: Jack English, who started 11 games at left tackle in 2016; Jack Powers, who added 40 pounds and is expected to contribute at nose tackle this season; and walk-on fullback Alec Shifflett.
Other surprising omissions from the roster selections include junior defensive backs Darious Lattimore and Myles Robinson, as well as kickers Andrew King and Nash Griffin.
Here are the rest of the numbers selected tonight. Per the football program’s Twitter feed, fifty players chose jerseys tonight, and we should expect to see more numbers picked as the season approaches.
A few other changes here. Wide receiver Joe Reed—one of the other reported breakout stars of fall camp—has changed from 81, and Olamide Zaccheaus will wear #4 instead of #33 as he becomes the focal point of the offense. Joe Spaziani will wear a more quarterback-like number than his old 99. And senior cornerback Kirk Garner moved up from #32.
Hasise Dubois gets the #11 that departed WR David Eldridge wore last season. Malcolm Cook will return to the field in #17, and transfer defensive back/returner Chuck Davis will make his Cavalier debut in #19.
Recent scholarship winner Brenton Nelson will wear #28 as he returns to football after his track career.
Jordan Mack changed positions but will still wear #37. Chris Sharp moved from defensive back to running back, and has switched from #25 to #31.
Lots of big names here in the 50s. Micah Kiser will look to return to his All-ACC ways and lead the Cavaliers defense, with the much-bulked-up James Trucilla and Eli Hanback in front of him. It’s also the first appearance of the heralded offensive line transfers, with likely starter Brandon Pertile picking #55.
With a large number of true freshmen being offensive linemen, and true freshmen having to wait longer to earn their numbers, no surprise to see lots of open slots in the 60s. Both Knutson and Moss are in the rotation for playing time on the line this year.
Seventies are for the big boys, including Notre Dame transfer John Montelus, and defensive line convert Osiris Crutchfield.
We’ll have the full roster posted when it’s out. Congrats to Jordan Ellis, and, most importantly...
TWO WEEKS TO FOOTBALL.