Northwestern defensive lineman Deonte Gibson has a new jersey number. And he's hoping the "new" doesn't stop there.
Gibson has been at Northwestern for three years as he heads into his redshirt junior season, and along the way he's been bothered by injuries. Hoping to rid the bad mojo of that and last year's disappointing five-win season, Gibson has switched from No. 98 to No. 13.
That's the same number as Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian.
“I’ve always wanted to be a bit like Trevor since I got here, so when I got the chance to switch (I took it)," Gibson joked Thursday during Northwestern football's media day."
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But it's starting fresh that is really on Gibson's mind.
"Honestly, it was just a new chapter I wanted to do, a new switch," he said. "The first few years I’ve been here, I’ve had a bit of an injury problem, random things happening, I’ve missed some time. So I just wanted to switch it up completely and get a fresh new start, especially after a year like last year. Just start new, new number, new year, and hopefully that signifies some success.”
Gibson said he picked the number not because of his love for Siemian but because of his love for his brother, Nate Oliver. Gibson wore No. 13 throughout high school because his brother wore it. Now he's bringing that to Northwestern.
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He's also hoping it brings better fortunes on the field and helps him stay on it. He redshirted in 2011 while recovering from a knee injury. He missed one game the following season with an elbow injury. Last year, he appeared in all 12 games, making three starts, 22 tackles and seven tackles for loss to go along with three sacks. But the 10-win days of 2012 seemed like ancient history when the Cats won just five times last season.
If Northwestern can turn things around in 2014, perhaps they can credit Gibson's new number. After all, athletes have a reputation for being superstitious.