There's been much strum und drang over the coveted No. 44 and whether or not a future Syracuse Orange football player should be handed it upon matriculation or wait until they've earned it. It's a discussion that many have been having on the Syracuse Lacrosse side for years concerning the just-as-coveted No. 22.
While most people would tell you No. 22 is "the lacrosse version of 44," I honestly think you could make a case that SU's No. 22 has become more integral than 44. Most obviously, because there are still new 22s coming in all the time and helping to drive the legacy forward. And yes, while some guys don't quite meet the expectations of a Gary Gait or Casey Powell, almost all of those who choose the number end up doing pretty well.
Enter Jordan Evans, the current number-bearer for SU lacrosse. Evans came to SU as the No. 1 overall recruit in his class and was the obvious choice to take on the hefty task of wearing No. 22. Evans has been "disappointing" so far, inasmuch as Kaleb Joseph has been disappointing to some, simply because he hasn't lived up to the hype of those who came before him despite a very limited window of opportunity. On multiple occasions during the season, someone on TV or in print used Evans's low stat line to make their case that No. 22 should be earned, not given out and besmirched by lesser lacrosse players.
But a funny thing happened this weekend. Evans finally had his breakout moment. The sophomore scored five goals (one more than he scored all season) and helped SU cruise to an NCAA Tournament win over Marist.
It's not a performance that suddenly puts Evans on par with Mikey Powell, but, it's a sign that he is in fact full of the potential that everyone expects to see of him. It also bodes well for the next two seasons, in which Evans will truly make his legacy and his place amongst 22s.
Most of all, though, Evans's performance shows us why those who think 22 and 44 need to be earned first have it all backwards. Handing over these numbers requires faith. Faith that someone with the kind of boundless potential Jordan has will put it to use and prove you correct in handing him the number in the first place. A guy who's gonna want 22 or 44 isn't trying to work his way towards the honor. He's saying I deserve the honor and now I'm gonna show you why. It's not about earning the right, it's about proving it.
You could have held off on giving Evans the 22 and Sunday's performance still would have been nice. But because he wears No. 22, that performance instead made everyone nod their head and say, "There it is...THERE'S a 22." That's the point. And now that game is part of the No. 22 lore, instead of being just another good game in a long Syracuse lacrosse history of good games.
Now Jordan Evans just has to keep proving it.