I've been meaning to ask this question for almost a year and kept putting it off as trivial. Then in Ryan Day's post-Nebraska press briefing he made mention of a penalty OSU nearly incurred:
ON HIS FRANTIC TIME OUT LATER IN THE GAME
Day said they accidentally had two No. 5s on the field, which is a penalty.
It was 4th and 3, so it would have given them a first down.
So, here's the burning question I've had for over a year and never bothered to ask. In the NFL, as I understand it, there are rough sets of numbers for linemen, defensive personnel, running backs / receivers, QBs and so on. For example, I've never seen a defensive lineman or linebacker wear the number 2. Most of them have double digit numbers usually in the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s.
However, in college ball, we have both offensive AND defensive guys wearing the same numbers. Example: J.K. Dobbins and Chase Young both wear 2, while Jeff Okudah (or is it Damon Arnette? - I think it's Okudah) and Justin Fields both wear 1.
So.... what's up with the college numbering? How do players get their numbers? And why isn't there a somewhat consistent system to them?