NC State current and future players who wear No. 16 and No. 9 will be able to reconnect to its past.
Former NCSU star quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, and defensive end Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills wore No. 16 and No. 9 respectively for the Wolfpack. Players that wear either number will have a patch honoring the duo.
NCSU second-year coach Dave Doeren noticed the concept while being the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin because Michigan does something similar.
"They had Desmond [Howard] and some of those guys un-circulate their numbers," Doeren said. "I just that was a really neat way of not only honor their number, but every game they get to see somebody wearing their number with their name on it. I just thought it was unique."
NC State has eight players with their numbers retired — quarterbacks Roman Gabriel and Philip Rivers, running backs Dick Christy and Ted Brown, offensive linemen Jim Ritcher and Bill Yoest, defensive end Dennis Byrd and wide receiver Torry Holt.
The NC State basketball program has only retired David Thompson's famed No. 44 jersey, but also decided to honor players.
"Last year, we had all these double-digit guys all the time because we can't use all the numbers, and there are great players we want to honor, but we can't keep losing numbers," Doeren said. "Pretty soon, you won't have enough to filed a team.
"I thought it was a really great way of getting two things done — honor great players and create a new tradition."
Doeren has toyed with the idea that perhaps future quarterbacks will get the chance to always wear No. 16. Certain numbers have become synonymous with positions at colleges like No. 1 for wide receiver at Michigan, No. 2 for cornerbacks at Florida State or No. 44 for running backs at Syracuse.
"Right now, we are just starting the thing, but I'm for it," Doeren said.
Wilson, Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy and and Denver Broncos outside linebacker Nate Irving, will have a Super Bowl reunion at the Kay Yow Spring Game on April 12 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
"I think it's great and the guy [Wilson] is so first class," Doeren said. "He's done everything like you would want any player to do, the right way off the field. I coached against him when I was at Northern Illinois [when Huskies played Wisconsin]. Everything I've heard about what he was like here in both sports [football and baseball], is tremendous."
Doeren knows the players will be excited to see a pair of Super Bowl champions in Wilson and Sweezy.
"That's special," Doeren said.
NC State free safety Jarvis Byrd will wear No. 9 this season in a move that occurred prior to Williams' having his jersey honored. Byrd was recently granted a sixth season after suffering three serious injuries in his Wolfpack career.
"Whether he's playing or not, and he's obviously still in the rehab stages, just having him in the locker room with us is a positive thing," Doeren said. "He is such a positive person and has a great outlook on life. He has dealt with so much adversity."
Doeren didn't want to make any promises on when Bryd might be ready or how he'll do when he returns.
"I hope so for him," said Doeren on being back for fall camp in August. "He hasn't even back-pedaled or ran a bit."