FAU’s Jaquez Johnson honors fallen friend with switch to No. 32

Lee Adams/Dispatch Staff
Starkville High School's Jawon Johnson(55) holds the state championship trophy up for fans to see next to a "Do it for Devin" sign after the Jackets 28-11 win on Saturday night. THe sign was in memory of Devin Mitchell who was shot and killed after last season.

ASN-FAU-Game-FactsPlayers choose numbers for a variety of reasons — for players they idolized as children; numbers passed down from parents or older siblings; lucky numbers.

But for FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson, his number choice runs deeper.

Johnson, who switched to No. 32 this year is honoring a friend, Devin Mitchell. They grew up together in Starkville, Miss., but despite never playing on the same team — they were two years apart — Johnson considered Mitchell his little brother.

On New Year’s Eve 2011, Mitchell was shot outside his home after attending church.

“A guy  who was on drugs there” shot him, Johnson said. “There were fireworks because it was New Years and he felt like someone was threatening his life shooting at him so he started shooting outside of his window and he shot Devin on top of his head.”

In February, Johnson considered ways to honor his friend. “I actually thought about I could actually wear No. 32,” he said. “I asked my mom about it and she was like ‘Why would you wear 32?’ and it really didn’t hit her at first but then she called me back and said ‘I understand why you would do that. I think it would be a great idea.'”

With the blessing of coach Charlie Partridge, Johnson started this season with a new number.

“Every day I look at that jersey and see the 32 I always think about it,” Johnson said. “I used to always look at my wrist and think about it like … yea … I know he’s somewhere happy … the fact that I’m representing him it’s great that I have the opportunity and the  platform to do something like this.”

On the cover: Photo courtesy The Starkville (Miss.) Dispatch

Monica McNutt

Monica McNutt is an anchor/reporter for American Sports Network