First and Fisher: Emmitt Smith may be the most famous football player to wear No. 22, but that wasn’t the case in high school

Pensacola News Journal
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With everyone looking for an angle on February 22, 2022 or 2/22/22, I thought it would be interesting to figure-out who was the most famous football player to wear the No. 22. Quickly, my mind turned to Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, the National Football League’s all-time leading rusher.

However, Smith didn’t always wear the Double-Deuces. When he was setting records in high school, Emmitt wore No. 24. He didn’t switch to No. 22 until he played at the University of Florida.

Yes, at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Florida, Smith starred with the No. 24 on his jersey. Below, you can check-out newspaper clippings and old video of Smith in that unfamiliar jersey number.

21 Dec 1985, Sat Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida) Newspapers.com

21 Nov 1986, Fri Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida) Newspapers.com

When Smith graduated from Escambia in 1987, he left with 8,804 yards, the second most rushing yards ever for an America high school football player.

Now, the big mystery…why did he change to No. 22 during his freshman year as a Florida Gator?

I searched and search, but I couldn’t find that answer. So, Emmitt, if you read this story, please reach-out to me to tell the world what led you to subtract two from your high school football uniform.

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.