One of the annual rites of pass of spring football – along with obsessing over weight gains and losses – are the number changes. As players graduate or otherwise leave the programs, numbers previously coveted by underclassmen open and are promptly snatched up. This spring is no different for the Irish, so here is a quick rundown of all of the changes.
#2 Jordan Genmark Heath
The rising sophomore wore #13 last year. No one wore #2 on defense for the Irish in 2017 so the impetus for the switch is unclear. Genmark Heath also slimmed down a bit this spring which is indicative of him remaining at safety and not getting a look at ROVER like some speculated he might. With DJ Morgan and Isaiah Robertson playing LB now, keeping him at safety makes sense. Dexter Williams also wears #2 on offense which means that if Williams is used as a returnman in any capacity, Genmark Heath wouldn’t be eligible to play on those units.
#3 Avery Davis
This is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. The #3 jersey is has been worn by many a highly touted quarterback though it has been some time since a quarterback doned the number for the Irish. In recent years highly thought of offensive players like Michael Floyd wore the number with great success while others like Amir Carlisle had mixed results. Davis will reportedly get looks at positions other than quarterback this spring so perhaps the coaches have a wildcat type role in mind for him. Early enrollee Houston Griffith will wear #3 on defense for the Irish. Brian Kelly mentioned he could play special teams meaning he and Griffith wouldn’t be able to be on the field together at the same time. That could be indicative of the staff having bigger plans for Griffith on defense.
#5 Troy Pride Jr.
The junior corner will take over Nyles Morgan’s old #5 jersey on the defensive side of the ball for Irish. Morgan held #5 for his entire four year career with the Irish. Pride wore #18 last year while no one else currently wears #5 for the Irish on offense.
#6 Tony Jones Jr.
We knew a number change was coming for Jones when early enrollee running back Jahmir Smith took #34 when the early enrollee numbers were announced. Jones takes over Equanimeous St. Brown’s #6 jersey from last year on offense. That number will conjure up some great memories of another big back for the Irish: all-time great Jerome Bettis. The Bus wore #6 for the Irish in the early 90’s before his Hall of Fame NFL career. There are no #6’s on defense for the Irish currently.
#8 Jafar Armstrong
One of the surprises of the first roster of the spring was Jafar Armstrong being listed as a wide receiver or running back. So not only could the sophomore be playing a new position this fall, he could be doing so with a new number. Armstrong switches from #25 to #8. Donte Vaughn also wears #8 on defense for the Irish. Armstrong is giving up a #25 jersey that carries with it some pretty lofty history – especially for wide receivers though it has been some time since any offensive player made a mark wearing #25. .
#11 Alohi Gilman
Gilman wore #12 last year while he sat out per NCAA transfer rules. Now that he is eligible to hit the playing field on gamedays, he will be doing so with a new number. No one wore #11 on defense last year for the Irish but graduate transfer Freddy Canteen wears the number on offense.