When Jimmy Horn Jr. arrived at practice on Wednesday donning the No. 5 on his jersey, the media learned he had become the first member of the Colorado Buffaloes to earn their number under head coach Deion Sanders.

At the onset of spring practice, Coach Prime informed the team that they would have to earn everything they were given at the program, including their jersey number, through their work ethic and practice performances.

Horn had been a star in practice, consistently cooking opposing defenders and stretching the field vertically for offensive coordinator Sean Lewis’ attack. His Energizer-Bunny-esque motor has also been evident whenever observing him in practice, so it’s no surprise the coaching staff warmed up to him quickly.

“I think he’s just been doing the things he’s supposed to do,” defensive ends coach Nick Williams said on Wednesday. “He’s living up to the standard, so far. He’s doing what we’re asking him. He’s playing hard. He’s dependable. He’s doing more, doing extra, and he’s showed that he’s here, and he wants to play and wants to win. And he’s a team guy. He loves his team.”

So, now that Horn’s jersey number has been sorted, and we understand “the standard,” who could be next?

1. Shane Cokes, DL

When pressed, following his glowing comments towards Horn Jr., Coach Williams immediately pointed toward Shane Cokes — a coveted and highly gifted transfer signing from Dartmouth — as the player he felt was the next-closest to earning their number.

“Shane Cokes is doing a good job for us,” Coach Williams said. “He’s a good kid. He’s smart. He plays hard. He’s a team guy. He’s a leader, and we’re glad he’s here. He’ll do whatever you ask him to do, and that’s what we need.”

Now, Williams is biased, of course, as one of the coaches overseeing the defensive line, but Cokes is a very logical pick. He’s arguably been the star of the Colorado Buffaloes’ defense so far through practice and has been a clear leader on the defensive line.

Not only that, but he’s already proven to be a very talented player during his time at Dartmouth. While playing for the Big Green, he led his team in tackles, and finished second in both sacks and tackles for loss, while playing primarily on the interior. As a result, he was voted second-team All-Ivey by the league’s coaches.

That said, Cokes will have some hurdles he’ll have to overcome. Coach Prime has already made it clear he isn’t excited about giving linemen single-digit numbers, and Cokes is likely to request his No. 0, the same number he wore at Dartmouth.

Projected Number: 0, 7, 54, or 56

2. Travis Hunter, WR/CB

Travis Hunter is one of the highest-rated recruits in the history of the sport and has been consistently lauded by his teammates and coaches alike for being a tireless worker.

Considering the value Coach Prime has placed on both talent and work ethic, Travis Hunter is an obvious choice to be the next player to earn their digits. If not for one of the Colorado Buffaloes’ assistant coaches explicitly saying they expected Cokes to be the next man up, Hunter would’ve been placed at the No. 1 spot on this list.

That’s not just the result of his pedigree either. He’s been a standout player whenever the media has been allowed to witness practice.

Whenever Hunter does get to select his number, and odds are that will happen sometime this weekend, it’s safe to say he’ll stick with his patented No. 12.

“Yeah, I’m gonna stick with 12,” Hunter said, when asked what number he’d pick. “But I gotta earn it just like [Jimmy Horn Jr.] earned his.”

Projected Number: 12

3. Shedeur Sanders, QB

Like Hunter, this one is very straightforward.

Shedeur Sanders is comfortably one of the most talented players on the roster, he’s clearly one of the most gifted players on the roster, he’s also been widely praised for his work ethic, and he’s been a standout player throughout practice.

Plus, Sanders plays a spotlight position.

If you check all those boxes, you will likely earn a number very quickly.

One could also highlight the fact that he’s Coach Prime’s son, but Prime’s old school nature could just as easily lead one to believe that, rather than being granted a nepotistic advantage, Sanders will instead be saddled with being asked to work even harder than the standard number-earning player.

Either way, even if Coach Prime forces Sanders to work a little extra to earn his number with the Colorado Buffaloes, he should earn it sooner rather than later.

Projected Number: 2

4. Montana Lemonious-Craig, WR

This is the dark horse candidate in the bunch, and although the inclusion of Montana Lemonious-Craig on this will surprise many, don’t be too quick to rule it out.

The two times media has been allowed in to observe the entire practice for the Colorado Buffaloes, Lemonious-Craig has stood out at wide receiver, which is especially impressive considering his first-team counterparts at the position have been Horn Jr. and Hunter.

The first time media was present, Lemonious-Craig had the play of the day, as he elevated over Hunter — the highest-rated cornerback recruit ever — to reel in the tough contested catch through contact.

The second time, he dazzled with a handful of acrobatic sideline snags that elicited hoops and hollers of celebration from the offensive sideline.

But Lemonious-Craig has been more than just those few eye-catching plays. He’s been a consistently impactful member of the first-team offense and possesses notable fire down to down, which has been a point of emphasis for Coach Prime’s staff throughout the jersey number process.

Plus, the narrative elements seem to favor Lemonious-Craig.

We’ve already discussed how being a lineman or wanting No. 0 might ding Cokes and how concerns over nepotism or favoritism might ding Sanders or Hunter, and Lemonious-Craig shares none of those same concerns. Plus, handing out one of the first numbers to someone who was already with the program before Prime got there might be a good message to the other carry-over talent still on the roster.

The biggest concern for Lemonious-Craig will be the fact that Colorado doesn’t have all their receivers yet, and that he could find himself relegated to the bench (when Hunter is on offense), once USF transfer Xavier Weaver gets to Boulder.

Will Coach Prime want to risk having a single-digit on the bench?

If Lemonious Craig wants to retain the No. 1, it’s probably going to be tougher for him to be the next CU player with a number. But, if he pursues the No. 15, it feels likely that he’ll be in the next crop of players to get their digit.

Projected Number: 1, 15