LSU junior edge rusher BJ Ojulari was awarded the coveted No. 18 jersey last week for his leadership on the team.
The tradition started after the 2003 season when quarterback Matt Mauck led the Tigers to their second national championship. He passed his number on to running back Jacob Hester, who led the Tigers to their 2007 national championship.
“All the 18s put us in a group chat and they were congratulating me,” Ojulari said. “It was great just for all of them to embrace me and welcome me into that brotherhood.”
Ojulari said that the most recent No. 18, Damone Clark, was the first to congratulate him. Both Clark and punter Avery Atkins wore the number last season.
“Just being a younger guy looking up to him, especially last year, he was outstanding,” Ojulari said.
Clark led the Southeastern Conference and was No. 2 nationally with 135 tackles last year. Ojulari led the defensive line as a sophomore in both tackles (55) and sacks (7) last year.
When asked about the number last week, LSU coach Brian Kelly said it was important that the tradition continues under his tutelage.
“We think that 18 is the one that brings all those traits that come to a player that leads in an extraordinary manner: attention to detail, a great focus, represents your program in a positive way both in the classroom, in the community and on the field,” Kelly said. “That’s what it means and it’s important, and so, we’re going to award it to a deserving player.”