It caused quite the stir when Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey put a No. 17 jersey over his normal No. 8 to return a kick against Texas State Saturday night in Tallahassee.
Why? Because the No. 17 belonged to former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Charlie Ward and has been retired at FSU for 20 years now. But FSU fans – especially the older ones who had the pleasure of watching Ward in person – can relax. It turns out Ward gave Ramsey permission, as he later explained on Facebook. And Warchant.com posted it to Twitter.
If you haven’t seen it, this was Charlie Ward’s Facebook post about giving Jalen Ramsey his blessing to wear 17. pic.twitter.com/OVQl4daSKJ
— Warchant.com (@Warchant) September 6, 2015
Ramsey wears the No. 8 on defense, but since fellow kick returner Kermit Whitfield also wears the No. 8, Ramsey went searching for an alternate. But what he found was more than he ever expected.
Jalen Ramsey on wearing Charlie Ward’s number: “That’s probably one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had in my life, honestly.”
— David Visser (@DavidBVisser) September 6, 2015
To wear the No. 17 – if even just during kickoffs – on the very same field Ward once dominated has to be special for Ramsey. It’s not common for former greats with retired numbers – at any school – to give up that honor, but the fact that Ward was willing to do so for Ramsey tells you all you need to know about the standout defensive back. And here was his first kickoff return wearing No. 17, via Nole Gameday.
Jalen Ramsey’s first career kickoff return. pic.twitter.com/H96yVmVYY6
— Nole Gameday (@NoleGameday) September 6, 2015
The Seminoles are at home next Saturday against USF, and as Ramsey takes the field to return a kick in a No. 17 jersey, FSU fans will now have a better appreciation for what’s happening.