While it is not unusual for rookie players to change their jersey numbers during their debut year as alternatives they prefer become available, for Pittsburgh Steelers fifth-round draft pick Zach Gentry, it would appear that the number change he was sporting during OTAs this week might not necessarily have been his idea.
Having worn No.83 at college in Michigan, it was not a total surprise to see Gentry wearing that number when he first appeared in a Steelers uniform at practice, despite the illustrious past of its most iconic wearer. However, it would seems that the sight of a tight end not named Heath Miller running around wearing 83 was disturbing enough for some in the organization to warrant asking Gentry to switch.
As per a report by Joe Rutter of TribLive, the rookie was encouraged to pick a different at the request Ben Roethlisberger.
“Gentry said “they asked me to switch” and termed it a “little shoutout” from Roethlisberger to Miller, one of the quarterback’s closest friends when they were teammates.”
But having met the great man himself while competing at the NFL Scouting Combine when Miller was working with the tight ends group, Gentry has no issues with making a change.
“Everybody was telling me about when tight ends make catches now, the crowd yells Heeeath. It was no big deal for me at all. I wore 83 in college, I didn’t ask for 83 (here).”
Remarking about Miller.
“He’s the nicest guy I ever met, he helped me a lot.”
Gentry will now wear No.81 for the Steelers, with the deference to Jesse James in Pittsburgh far less significant that it is to Miller.