At Michigan, The No. 1 is typically reserved for superstar wide receivers. Anthony Carter, Braylon Edwards, Devin Funchess and Derrick Alexander are just a few former Wolverine standouts who have sported numero uno.
For three years, Nico Collins has made the No. 4 famous, but now, he's getting ready to embark on his senior campaign as Michigan's No. 1 receiver. Should his jersey number match? We discus...
As an artistic, visually driven person who has drawn pictures and created digital art of various athletes for more than 30 years, I really like uniforms, jersey numbers, accessories and shoes and cleats. That world resinates with me.
With that said, I'm cool with Collins switching to No. 1 if he and the coaches think he's deserving. The No. 1 is special at Michigan even though several players have worn it since Jim Harbaugh took over. Senior cornerback Ambry Thomas is wearing it right now, so obviously it's not quite the special badge of honor we often think of it as, but it's still noteworthy for a receiver.
If Collins came trotting out against Washington with the No. 1 jersey on, it would be a big deal. As Steve will mention, putting that number on could have two effects and I think it would be positive for the hardworking, mature and focused Collins during his senior campaign.
I can see how donning that illustrious number could provide extra motivation or undue pressure. And not knowing Nico I have no idea how he’d respond. So I think you have to trust the coaches to know if this would give him a legacy to live up to, or impose a standard on him his production thus far hasn’t earned. I’d also be attracted to the idea of turning his current number into a legacy number for WRs.
When it comes to Michigan players and jersey numbers, I have a long-held belief that players should choose one number and perform well enough that fans will associate said player with that number down the road. In terms of wide receivers, when I think of No. 82, Amara Darboh comes to mind because of his strong junior and senior campaigns. If he would have switched to the No. 1 after his junior season, his memory would float between two numbers. In this situation, Nico Collins established himself with the No. 4 on his jersey, and he should continue etching his Michigan legacy with the same number. Call it an antiquated mindset, but only an absolutely dominant season should warrant a mid-career jersey number switch to No. 1 as a receiver, and Collins did not have that type of season in 2019.
Jim Harbaugh hasn't treated the No. 1 jersey with any reverie. During his time, a linebacker (Jordan Anthony), a receiver (Kekoa Crawford) and, currently, a cornerback (Ambry Thomas) have all donned the No. 1. However, that doesn't mean it's not special and if I was Collins, I'd ask for it.
While we might always say - make the No. 4 jersey special, the fact is, there have been lots of greats at U-M over the past 20 years and no one's number really stands out the way No. 1 does. And when we talk about that famed jersey, it's easy to recite the men that wore it with distinguish - AC, McMurtry, Alexander, Terrell, Edwards. Collins could add his name to that legendary list with a switch and an All-American season.