Raiders Defensive End Shilique Calhoun
When Shilique Calhoun chose to begin his career as an Oakland Raider with the number 91 across his chest, he knew he had big shoes to fill.
For the past two seasons, the number belonged to Justin Tuck, a former First-Team All-Pro defensive end and two-time Super Bowl Champion, who after an impressive 11-year career decided to retire this offseason. Now, Calhoun is preparing to begin his career in Silver and Black, and is ready to take the mantle from a player he grew up idolizing and put his own mark on the number.
"When I saw the number, I was like, it's weird because it's Justin Tuck's number, but hopefully I can evolve it into Shilique Calhoun's number," said Calhoun. "He will always be one of the greats. I think that No. 91 will be known throughout all of the NFL, but hopefully I can mold that number into Shilique Calhoun, and people will remember me for it."
While Calhoun is intent on taking ownership of the number and making 91 his own, what does he remember the most about watching Tuck on the field as he grew up just an hour outside of New York City?
"I just like how he [Tuck] got after the quarterback," Calhoun explained. "He was one of those guys who was relentless, constantly working hard and he fought his butt off from the first whistle to the last, and I kind of model my game in that sense, that I'm going to give it everything I have each and every play. You're going to have pull me off the field with a stretcher before I'm done."
The Raiders' third-round draft pick certainly isn't lacking confidence, and after an impressive four-year career at Michigan State, the Raiders' coaching staff would be thrilled if down the road Calhoun turned into a disruptive force along the defensive line like Tuck.
However, for the time being, Calhoun is taking things a day at a time and going through his first week of on-field work with the veterans, following the conclusion of Rookie Minicamp over the weekend.
While running out of the tunnel – wearing No. 91 – for his first game as professional football player will fulfill a childhood dream, Calhoun hasn't let quite let himself fast forward to that moment just yet, there's still a lot of work left to do.
"I haven't envisioned it," Calhoun said. "Honestly, I've been trying to study this playbook. That's the first thing for me. If I can't understand this playbook I'll never make it on the field, just trying to understand the playbook and get acquainted with my new-found teammates and try to be the best teammate I can be for those guys. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm up for the challenge and it's going to be a good go around."