The Nebraska football team has officially entered the Matt Rhule era by launching a new tradition that could endear the team quickly to fans.
About two weeks into the Nebraska football fall camp was probably the perfect timing for a tradition that head coach Matt Rhule has discussed before. It’s a tradition that is startlingly similar to the Blackshirts in many ways, though it manages to make itself available to everyone on the team.
The tradition was officially launched on Wednesday night when the Nebraska football team announced the first four players wearing single-digit numbers this fall. The idea is that there will be at least 10 players by the end of the season who have those single digits. But for now, there are four players that stand out as an example the rest of the squad can aspire to.
Billy Kemp is the first of the quartet, choosing the number one. Isaac Gifford is number two, Like Reimer is number four and Jeff Sims is number seven.
The recipients of the single digit numbers were were voted on by their teammates this week. There will be more votes as the season goes on. Though for now, Rhule is keeping it under his hat just when those votes will happen.
Nebraska football embraces new tradition
Rhule originally talked about this tradition, which he first saw as an assistant at Temple under Al Golden this spring. While crediting Golden with coming up with it, he kept it when he took over the head job at Temple and then carried it to Baylor. Now it’s a new Nebraska football tradition.
“Really the guys who best exemplify what it means to be a Cornhusker. To be accountable, to be dependable, to be tough, hard-working, competitive every single day. So as we get into training camp, we’ll vote on it,” Rhule said in the spring.
“I think the cool thing now is, recruits say it to me, guys say it to me, ‘Can I wear No. 3? Absolutely. Just have to earn it,” Rhule added earlier this year. “There’s no delineation. The first guy that we vote in, he picks whatever he wants, the second guy we vote in, he picks whatever he wants. And over time, at least at Temple, hey, the No. 6s were all this kind of position, the No. 3s were all DBs, you know. I’ve had freshmen earn it. I’ve had seniors earn it.
Interestingly enough, the first four players to get their new numbers were named before there’s even been an inkling of who is getting their Blackshirts. Or when they might be handed out. There’s even still a question as to whether or not that’s planned on as part of this era of Nebraska football. However, it seems unlikely that tradition is going away anytime soon.