When the Colorado football program opened spring practice earlier this week, the players were wearing blank jerseys after head coach Deion Sanders said they’ll have to earn the right to wear a number this season.
“The reason we’re here is because we asked you for the numbers that you desire, and a lot of you guys were desiring numbers that ain’t you,” Sanders said during a team meeting on Sunday. “What I mean by that (is) a lineman is not wearing a single digit. That’s not gonna happen under me.
“If you ain’t that guy, you’re not wearing a single digit. Back in the day, when we came up, single digits was that guy. Right? It was him. It was who he was. How can you ask for No. 1 if you ain’t the one?”
It appears the only player who won’t have to earn a number is Sanders’ son, junior quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who will wear the No. 2 that he had a Jackson State. The elder Sanders will assign the No. 1 to the player of his choosing while the No. 0 is off limits, so that leaves just seven single-digit numbers to choose from.
“You’re not wanting zero,” Sanders said. “That would never happen because that means you’re nothing. I don’t understand who wants a zero. I don’t understand if you want to be a nothing. I don’t get that.”
Sanders had several players stand up during the team meeting and announce which number they want, telling anyone else who wanted the number they have to “be better than him” in order to get it.
“That simple,” Sanders said. “Everything you do around here will be earned. We ain’t giving you nothing, so you gotta go get it and you gotta take it.”
Colorado will open the 2023 season at TCU on Sept. 2. The Buffaloes were 1-11 overall and 1-8 in the Pac-12 last season, while Sanders led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, SWAC championship and a trip to the Celebration Bowl.