Jaycee Horn was the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Panthers, and it looks like that number will follow him into his pro career.
The rookie cornerback will take advantage of the NFL’s new number rules — which allow him to wear any number 1-49 — choosing to become one of the first modern NFL defenders to wear a single-digit jersey.
As he announced on Twitter, Horn will wear the No. 8 jersey during his rookie season. It appears that decision will not only be a nod to his draft selection, but also pay tribute to the late, great Kobe Bryant.
Bryant wore the No. 8 jersey for the first 10 years of his career before switching to his high school number, 24, ahead of the 2006-07 NBA season. Under the old NFL uniform rules — which dictated cornerbacks can only wear jerseys numbered 20 through 49 — Horn would only have been able to wear No. 24.
While that number was available, Horn opted for originality in rocking the single-digit look. That’s what he did during his college days, donning the No. 1 jersey for South Carolina; wearing that number for the Panthers probably wouldn’t be an option, considering that Cam Newton wore it there for a decade.
Regardless of the number he wears, Horn — who had two interceptions in his final season with the Gamecocks — will be expected to help replace James Bradberry, who departed last offseason. Horn, as the first defensive player selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, should have a chance to do just that.