Jaydon Mickens had a simple explanation on Tuesday for why he switched jersey numbers from No.4 to No.1 for the 2015 season.
“We finally announced the starting quarterback,” Mickens said, “and it’s going to be me, Cam Newton.”
He was joking, probably.
The real reason Mickens switched numbers is to honor teammate John Ross III, the Huskies’ speedy receiver and kick returner who will miss the 2015 season due to a knee injury. The two grew up together in the Los Angeles area and are close friends.
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Ross wore No. 1 last season, and Mickens has always worn No.4. But because true freshman cornerback Austin Joyner also wears No. 4 and is likely to play on some of the same special-team units as Mickens this season, somebody had to change.
So Ross, who along with Mickens and Marvin Hall is a founding member of the self-described “Legion of Zoom,” suggested that Mickens simply take his number.
“Ross said, ‘Hey man, I want you to wear my number,’” Mickens said. “So I was like, ‘Man, if you really want me to wear your number, I’ll wear your number this year to honor you.’ He’s not dead, but it’s just all out of respect, love, the whole ‘L.O.Z’ thing.
“… We’ve known each other for a long time. And for this to be my last year, and probably never playing any organized sport with him ever again, I had to do something to let him know that I respect him, I love him and I’m always here for him.”
Huskies coach Chris Petersen said Sunday that Ross has been “spectacular” during his rehab from ACL surgery.
“I can’t tell you how positive that guy has been in this whole thing,” Petersen said. “And he’s making an unbelievable recovery. It’s one of those things where it’s like, ‘Are we sure this guy’s not going to play?’ I think a lot of it has to do with his mentality and how positive he has been.”
Without Ross, the Huskies have just four scholarship receivers returning from last season — Mickens, Hall and sophomores Brayden Lenius and Dante Pettis.
Three true freshmen — Chico McClatcher of Federal Way, Isaiah Renfro and Quinten Pounds — will likely factor into the receiver rotation, too. Pettis and Lenius are listed as starters after playing last season as true freshmen.
Speaking in general terms about the 11 true freshmen that occupy the Huskies’ depth chart, Petersen said: “I think some of these guys are pretty talented, and just by the nature of the youth of our team, anyway, we feel good about getting these guys into the mix. I think one thing that’s real apparent is the kids that we played last year as true freshmen, those are kind of the wily veterans right now in how far along they are, even when some of those guys weren’t starters.”
Petersen still mum on QB
Asked during his Wednesday media availability about how the Huskies’ anonymous starting quarterback handled his duties this week, Petersen showed a sense of humor.
“Well, we actually went with 10 guys on offense this week. We’re still making sure we decide the right thing. We’ll get him some reps in the next 48 hours,” Petersen said.
He then added: “They’ve done well,” then swiftly changed the subject. Petersen said Sunday that he’s announced the identity of the starting quarterback to the team, but won’t make a public announcement before Friday’s game.
He did say that this week’s practices affirmed his decision.
“We feel good about it,” Petersen said. “We took about as much time as we could deciding what we were going to do and I think we feel very good about it.”
Petersen said it was “a big deal” in Boise when the two schools announced a home-and-home series in 2011 (for the 2013 and 2015 seasons). “I think there’s been two Pac-12 teams that have gone into Boise in the entire history of Boise State,” he said, referring to Oregon State and Oregon. “So for us at that time to get another one to come back was a big deal, and it still is.” … Petersen said that aside from Ross, the Huskies don’t have any “long-term” injuries heading into the season.
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