Colorado players have no numbers at start of spring ball, Deion Sanders says they must be earned
Colorado took the field inside its Indoor Practice Facility on Sunday, marking the official opening of Deion Sanders’ first spring ball as head coach.
The team looked a little different, though — aside from the obvious. No one had any numbers on the backs of their jerseys. Those, Coach Prime says, will be earned. In talking to the team about expectations for how they’ll perform when they’re in between the white lines on the practice field, Sanders shared that players will be fighting every day to earn the number of their choice. Until they’ve earned them, the back of their jersey will just have their name.
“A lot of you guys were desiring numbers that ain’t you. What I mean by that is a lineman is not wearing a single digit. That’s not gonna happen. If you ain’t that guy, you’re not wearing a single digit,” Sanders said. “Back in the day, when we came up, the single digits was that guy. It was him. It was who he was. How can you ask for No. 1 and you ain’t the one?”
Coach Prime told the team there are only eight single-digit numbers to hand out. He will award the No. 1 jersey to a player he feels has earned it. Sanders said no one will wear No. 2. And even though the NCAA has begun allowing players to wear No. 0, Sanders said CU won’t use the number because “that means you’re nothing.”
Sanders asked players to stand up and tell him which numbers they wanted. One said they wanted 45. Sanders asked if anyone else wanted the number, and upon a hand raise, he made them stand up as well.
“That means you’ve gotta be better than him,” he said to the two standing. “That simple.”
“The coaches are gonna grade you guys at the end of every week,” Sanders said. They don’t have to give out a number like you don’t have to go to the Hall of Fame. Every week it’s going to be judged. If you’re balling out, Coach may say, ‘Shoot, I’ve got a lineman kicking butt.’ I’ll say, ‘Let’s see the tape.’ If you’re kicking butt, we’re gonna say, ‘Yeah, he gets his number.’
“Everything you do around here will be earned. We ain’t giving you nothing. So you’ve gotta go get it and you’ve gotta take it.”
Prime is setting a high standard with the Buffs looking to quickly rebound from a 1-11 season. Among the other expectations, Sanders says players will run between drills; no walking. He also instructed the team’s quarterbacks and wideouts that if an incomplete pass is thrown during the routes-on-air portion of drills, the pass-catchers are to leave the ball on the turf where it fell and the quarterbacks will be responsible for retrieving it.
You can see more of his talk with the team below: