David Anaya
David Anaya
Stevens: UNM's Number Game Not always a 1-2-3 Snap
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/04/2014

Lobo Football tentative number changes for 2014:

Name Old No. New No.
Darian Allen 98* 61
David Anaya 38 25
Brett Bowers 44, 48** 69
Tyler Duncan 84 10
Chris Loidolt 57 48
Marcus Lopez 37# 18
Cameron Padilla 46## 33
Tre'Von Roy 27 31
Michael Walsh 36 46

* -- changed positions from defensive line to offensive line
** -- changed number originally due to Brian Urlacher's jersey retirement
# -- changed positions from running back to wide receiver
## -- changed positions from defensive back to running back


By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The numbers game with Lobo football jerseys isn’t as simple as one, two, three.

In fact, if you are a Lobo football player, it’s not easy to get that No. 1 splashed across your jersey.  You have to earn it.

“You have to go through coach (Bob) Davie to get No. 1.  It has to be a special situation,” said Lobo assistant coach Apollo Wright, who is in charge of dealing out New Mexico jersey numbers.  “It is a big-time number.  You want that number, you have to go to coach Davie.

“I don’t think anybody is ready to push that button yet.”

Tyler Duncan wanted to push that button and get the number he wore in junior college -- the number Cam Newton wears for the Carolina panthers.

Duncan didn’t push that button.

“I fell in love with No. 1, but they (UNM) don’t just give it to anybody,” said Duncan, a talented receiver wearing No. 10 for the 2014 season after wearing No. 84 last year.  “I took No. 10 because it seemed like the closest I could get to No. 1.”

Lobo Crusoe Gongbay might disagree.  He is No. 2.  That’s almost No. 1. Cranston Jones is No. 3 on the defensive side of the football.  David Vega is No. 3 on the offensive side.   

“It seems like a lot of guys like single-digit numbers,” said Wright.

Single-digit numbers usually go to running backs, quarterbacks and an occasional wide receiver.   UNM linebacker Richard Winston (No. 9), defensive back Cranston Jones (No. 3)  and defensive back David Guthrie (No. 8) are the only Lobos in single digits who aren’t a QB or a RB.

Duncan didn’t get No. 1, but No. 10 is cool, too. You’ve heard the expression “a perfect 10.”  Duncan probably would be happy catching 10 passes a game.

The numbers game for athletic jerseys seems like a trivial thing, but a jersey number can have historical or emotional attachments -- and sometimes superstitious attachments.  A certain number might seem lucky to certain athletes.  UNM’s Teriyon Gipson is lucky No. 7.  Ridge Jones is No. 11.  Hey, that’s two number ones side by side.

Football teams were among the first athletic teams to ever place numbers on their shirts.  Major League baseball first did it in 1916 – on sleeves. 

Duncan also said he likes No. 10 because DeSean Jackson, who played at the same high school in Long Beach, wore No. 10 for Philadelphia.  Jackson will be No. 11 at Washington because a guy named RG3 (Robert Griffin III) has dibs on No. 10.

At junior college, Duncan wanted No. 5, but got No. 16.  “I didn’t like 16,” he said. “They just gave it to me. I wanted No. 5.”

At UNM, Duncan wanted No. 1, but got No. 10. Romell Jordan wanted No. 10, but got No. 4 over a lot of other Lobos.

“There were a lot of players who wanted No. 4,” said Wright. “I guess there were a lot of No. 4s in high school.”

Jordan was not No. 4 in high school.  “My high school number was No. 10 so I wanted it here, but Tyler got it,” said Jordan.  “I didn’t have first pick. He had seniority over me, but I’m OK with four.

“My oldest brother’s first football number was No. 4 and Demarcus Rogers was No. 4 last year and he was like my big brother to me, so I want to show him some love on the field with that number.”

Jordan was No. 27 in 2013.  “I didn’t like that number,” he said. “I have never been higher than 15 my whole life before I got here.”

Lobo players can request numbers.  If nobody has that number (and it’s not No. 1), they usually get it.  A returning player can keep his old number.  A senior usually has “dibs” over an underclassman.

Lobo David Anaya of Roswell wore No. 38 last season.  “I didn’t like 38 because it was close to 40 and I don’t like numbers in the 40s,” said Anaya.  “And 25 was one of my first numbers and it was my number in high school.

“Also when I was little I was No. 2 and No. 5 is a favorite number of mine and No. 5 was Kasey Carrier’s number.”

“No. 25 is a number I feel good in,” said Anaya recalling Deon Sanders saying: If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.

The feel-good element is real.  When Michael Jordan returned to basketball, he did not return to the No. 23 that the Chicago Bulls had retired.  He wore 45.  When he did not like his play with that number on his jersey, he returned to No. 23.  He played better.

If the Lobos are happy with their numbers, maybe they will play better, too – which probably would be No. 1 in coach Wright’s book of numbers.