This past weekend the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the jersey numbers that will be worn by this year’s rookie class.
Second-round pick Chase Claypool chose No. 11, which wide receiver Donte Moncrief wore—albeit only a handful of times—last year. Third-round pick Alex Highsmith chose No. 56, most recently owned by linebacker Anthony Chickillo.
Anthony McFarland, Jr. Selects Le’Veon Bell’s Old Number
Explaining his selection to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, McFarland said, “I watch [Bell’s] game, I study his film as somebody who’s been a great back in the league for a long time. It’s definitely me looking up at him and not a sign of disrespect.”
Never mind that McFarland’s style bears little resemblance to Bell’s counter-intuitive, patient approach to running the ball. McFarland is a quick-to-the hole back, one who is more likely to break off long-gainers, as he did in a 2018 game against Ohio State when he had touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards en route to 298 rushing yards.
It should also be noted that No. 26 was McFarland’s second choice; he decided to let college teammate Antoine Brooks, Jr., wear No. 25, the same number Brooks wore at the University of Maryland.
Finally, seventh-round pick Carlos Davis will wear No. 73, while fourth-rounder Kevin Dotson will go with No. 69, the number chosen for him by Steelers fans, via a poll Dotson conducted on his Twitter account. No. 69 won out in a landslide, with 56 percent of the vote, chosen ahead of numbers 65, 68 and 79, none of which garnered more than 17 percent of the vote.
For what it’s worth, Dotson has already endeared himself to Steelers fans—in part because he’s a longtime fan himself.
“I’ve been a Steelers fan all my life, and I know how our fans roll,” said Dotson in a video interview with Missi Matthews for Steelers.com. “The amount of support I get from them already is ridiculous. I try to do as much as I can to show my appreciation to the fans.”
Yet another reason why fans have taken a liking to Dotson is his matter-of-fact approach to trash-talking. In college, Dotson would occasionally tell the defensive lineman across from him “that the play is coming right behind me … now what are you going to do about it? Once I beat them, that destroys their confidence,” said Dotson. “That really hurts their psyche.”
Of course, telling your opponent the forthcoming play won’t work in the NFL, and Dotson admits he doesn’t plan to continue the practice at the professional level. But then he added, “If I get to that point where I can get that confidence in, who knows?”
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Veteran Free Agent Jersey Numbers
Meanwhile, in other jersey-related news, the Steelers have announced that veteran free agent acquisition Eric Ebron will wear No. 85, while Derek Watt will sport No. 44 and Stefen Wisniewski will squeeze into a No. 61 jersey.
Defensive lineman Chris Wormley, acquired in an unlikely trade with the Baltimore Ravens, will wear No. 95.