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Georgia Tech honors Bryce Gowdy as numbers are handed out

A close-up look at the  Georgia Tech's alternate uniform worn against North Carolina on October 5, 2019. (Mike Flynn/Georgia Tech Athletics)
A close-up look at the  Georgia Tech's alternate uniform worn against North Carolina on October 5, 2019. (Mike Flynn/Georgia Tech Athletics)

After arriving on campus this past weekend, Georgia Tech’s freshmen learned their jersey assignments for the season ahead Monday, courtesy of coach Geoff Collins. There also was one more jersey, No. 7, held to honor the late Bryce Gowdy.

It was one way for Collins to ensure that Gowdy, the star wide receiver who took his life in December days before he was to enroll at Tech, would be honored and remembered. Collins accorded a similar honor to the late Brandon Adams, keeping the defensive lineman’s No. 90 on the team roster last season after his death last March.

When Collins spoke with the incoming freshmen on a videoconference call in late May, he made sure to bring up Gowdy.

“I would have been remiss if I didn’t include him in that meeting,” Collins said in a videoconference with media June 2. “And as this signing class progresses through graduation and championships and all those things that this class is going to be a part of, (it’s important) to make sure that we’re carrying Bryce’s legacy throughout with this group of guys.”

Gowdy wore No. 7 at Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High and made plans to share it with incoming freshman Miles Brooks, who also wore the number in high school in Jacksonville, Fla. (By NCAA rule, two team members can wear the same number as long as they don’t play the same position and aren’t on the field at the same time.) They came up with the hashtag #Believein7, Brooks said, that took on greater meaning after Gowdy’s death.

Brooks was assigned No. 20. As was the case with Tech’s single-digit jersey wearers last season, Collins will award those coveted numbers based on their commitment to the team.

“Well, I’ll earn 7,” Brooks told the AJC in June, before his arrival at Tech this past weekend. “Whenever they decide to put me in it, I’ll make sure that I take good care of it.”

Another interesting assignment went to running back Jahmyr Gibbs, rated the No. 75 prospect in the 2020 class (247Sports Composite). Collins gave him No. 21, worn most famously (and in succession) by Tech greats Calvin Johnson and Jonathan Dwyer.

Other assignments: linebacker Tyson Meiguez (26), defensive end Kyle Kennard (31), linebacker Khatavian Franks (34), defensive end Jared Ivey (35), linebacker Khaya Wright (37), offensive lineman Paula Vaipulu (60), offensive lineman Wing Green (76), wide receiver Ryan King (84), tight end Billy Ward (85), wide receiver Nate McCollum (88), wide receiver Avery Boyd (89) and defensive lineman Emmanuel Johnson (91).

Numbers for the early enrollees: quarterback Tucker Gleason (16), quarterback Jeff Sims (17), cornerback Jalen Huff (29), offensive linemen Jordan Williams (50), Ryan Spiers (71) and Michael Rankins (74) and defensive lineman Akelo Stone (97).

On Tuesday, the team also announced on its Twitter account that Collins had awarded the No. 4 jersey to cornerback Jaytlin Askew, who previously wore No. 33.

Wrote Askew on his Twitter page, “Might not understand how important it is unless you’re on the team, but it’s an unbelievable honor to represent a single digit on my team!”