I'm pretty sure my frequent references to music I like loses me readers. But screw it, here's Toots and the Maytals, with 54-46 Was My Number.
College football is about violent, rapid turnover. (Not violent, rapid turnovers. That's what Purdue's offense is about.) Last week, I was flipping through photos from NU's first practice, and I saw a photo of a quarterback in a purple "no-contact" No. 13 jersey, delivering a pass to a wide receiver. Then I read the caption, and realized it was Trevor Siemien, a true freshman, not MIke Kafka, who I instinctually thought it was.
This happens every year. Arby Fields looks like Tyrell Sutton in the backfield wearing No. 19. I remember at least one confused person talking about how they thought Rasheed Ward graduated, when, in fact, it was Demetrius Fields. It's not a problem you have in basketball, where you can see a player's face, hair, and players are generally easier to identify - or in any other sport really. But with the semi-anonymity of the guys under those helmets, this is always a problem.
So I've got a primer, which will hopefully prepare you for future shock by telling you who's who - on a team replacing a bunch of skill positions you probably got familiar with, it'll take some time.
(And, no, I'm not racist, in case you're checking.)
No. 13: That's not Mike Kafka, it's Trevor Siemien.
Confusing criteria: Same position (check! quarterback), same race (check! white), same body type (check! both 6-foot-3)
Why it's not confusing: Siemien won't play at all this year, so, chill out. The similarity will freak you out in four years when he has a shot at playing, when the Cult of Persa-nality and Watkinsurgency have faded away.
No. 13: That's still not Mike Kafka, it's CJ Bryant.
This one won't be confusing at all, but there are two players wearing No. 13 on NU's roster, the other being freshman cornerback CJ Bryant.
Confusing criteria: Same position (check! cornerback) same race (check! black) same body type (near check! Sherrick was 6-foot-1, Ibraheim is 5-foot-11)
Why it's not confusing: Like Siemien, Campbell won't be playing for a while.
Confusing criteria: Same position (check! defensive end) same race (check! black) same body type (stretchin it. Corey was huge at 6-foot-7, 280, Chance is comparatively tiny, but still gigantic, at 6-foot-4 and 240.)
Why it's not confusing: yeah, freshman likely to redshirt. You get the picture.
No. 4: That's not Brendan Smith, it's Adonis Smith
Confusing criteria: same position (NO! Brendan's a safety, Adonis is a running back) same race (NO! Brendan is white, Adonis is black) similar body type (KINDA! Brendan's 6-foot-1, Adonis is 5-foot-11)
Hyperconfusing criteria: same last name (CHECK! Smith, Smith.)
Why it's not confusing: I assume people will make a joke about whether Brendan Smith switched positions to running back, and also became black. I also assume this is an evil ploy by Northwestern to save money on jerseys by keeping Brendan's old duds and giving them to Adonis.
Less confusing, but still noteworthy:
Nate Williams: No. 44, not No. 57
Not confusing with regards to the number's former inhabitant, Mark Woodsum, who was a fullback, but, we've seen Williams for two years now as a mainstay of the linebacking corps wearing No. 57 - he'll be wearing No. 44 this year. He's the only player expected to have a major role in the team that switched his number.
Some people expect Venric Mark - a speedy wide receiver - to be one of the few true freshmen in the regular rotation on this year's team, as a participant int he kick returning game. But you won't confuse him with Markshausen - Zeke never returned kicks, and Mark is shorter, and, uh, not white. We'll know there's a cost-cutting measure by the athletics department to save money on new jerseys if Venric comes out wearing Zeke's old uni with the last seven letter's of "Markshausen" literally ripped off the back, so the "Mark" is all the way to the one side of the jersey.
No. 12: Tony Jones, not Andrew Brewer
A wide receiver keeps Brewer's number, but Jones is considerably shorter and of a different race than Andrew Brewer.
Not confusing at all, but just so you know
No. 17: Rashad Lawrence, not Brad Philiips
Wrong race, wrong position, but you probably knew Phillips had No. 17 after four years in the secondary. Now, it's Lawrence, a wide receiver.
At this point, I set out to make a record of every vacated number at NU. Then I realized nobody in the name of all that is holy would care and that I couldn't recognize some linemen by number anyway - I deemed the ones up there to be the somewhat recognizable numbers that could actually merit a post. You'll figure out the rest if you need to. There were several changes of numbers amongst players already in the program - Tyris Jones, Aaron Nagel, Evan Luxenburg, and Mike Jensen - motivated by switching sides of the ball in the offseason (actually, to be technical, Jones switched his number during the season last year when he became a running back and needed to wear a number of an eligible receiver, but he switched it again in the offseason), and two more - Jaleel Reed and Brandon Williams - who I guess just didn't like their numbers. But these people have a combined four games playing experience, so I figured you weren't interested.
So now, you have no excuse for getting confused. Yes, I just wrote a post about Northwestern football numbers, and yes, I know you don't care. But at least you're prepared.