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22 days to football: An ode to No. 22, which won't be worn this season

 

Photo by: The Dispatch File Photo

 

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Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.  

 

Today, since we are 98 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: No one wears it this season, but the No. 22 has been a sneaky important jersey number for MSU's fortunes. 

 

 

 

The lore of the No. 22 begins with two potentially pivotal pieces on this year's team that are no longer wearing it: Malik Dear and Aeris Williams. 

 

Williams did the number good in his one season in it, leading MSU in carries (236) and yards (1,107). He's also going to be a pretty important part of this year's team in No. 26, much like the man that wore No. 22 for three years before he did: Malik Dear. 

 

Dear had a respectable sophomore season in that jersey, catching 23 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns as a reserve, after 22 catches as a freshman. With so much importance on improvement from the wide receiver position, Dear being an experienced slot receiver option could be a hinging point. 

 

Fear not, loyal reader. There is much more recent history to the No. 22, to the point that it goes back for a decade. 

 

From 2010 to 2014, the number belonged to linebacker Matthew Wells, the Monticello native that did the number justice right after his redshirt season. He was a SEC All-Freshman Team nominee in 2011 playing in all 13 games; he played all 13 games as a sophomore and started four times, then starting 33 times before his career ended. His 8.5 tackles for a loss in 2014 was second on that team and had a good game against No. 2 Auburn, tallying five tackles with a sack and a quarterback hurry. 

 

Wells took the number over from another notable linebacker, Jamar Chaney, the man who takes the No. 22 jersey back a full decade from now. He was a second-team All-SEC selection as a sophomore, but injuries derailed his junior and senior seasons. 

 

And there you have it. While no one is wearing it this year, the number has a solid recent history. Maybe it won't be long until someone picks it up and keeps the run going. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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