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How Laiatu Latu, Adonai Mitchell are drawing motivation from their Colts jersey numbers

Latu will wear No. 97, while Mitchell will wear No. 10 for the Colts. Both players intentionally chose their numbers to use as motivation. 

Laiatu Latu

Laiatu Latu expected to be here, walking into an NFL locker room as an NFL player for the first time this week. But when he saw his locker at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center – with his name and number, 97, above it – he was filled with gratitude and appreciation for where his feet were.

"I was ecstatic," Latu said. "I couldn't believe I was looking at my own locker with my own number on it in the Colts' facility. It's just a surreal moment. As I was looking at the locker, I just remember everything I went through, as a kid playing football starting at six years old, now I'm in — I think this is the best setting to practice, play football in. I love it."

Latu, the Colts' first-round draft pick and the first defensive player selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, said he was given a choice between two numbers to wear: 57 or 97.

And knowing what he learned about Colts history upon arriving in Indianapolis after being picked, the choice was easy for the young defensive end.

"I learned when I got here the whole history behind the 90s numbers," Latu said. "You got 93, 98, (Robert) Mathis and (Dwight) Freeney. … You got DeForest Buckner, one of the best D-linemen to ever play wearing 99. I got to pick either between 95 and 57, and when they told me that, I was just like, I'm rocking with the 90s."

Freeney will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, and Mathis – the NFL's all-time strip sack king – has a strong case for Canton, too. Both Freeney and Mathis are in the Colts' Ring of Honor. Buckner, meanwhile, is a three-time Pro Bowler and is widely regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.

For Latu, though, he was intentional about not shying away from those expectations – and living up to the legacy built by the guys who came before him.

"I want to give my all to this program," Latu said. "I want to be able to go out there and be that guy on third downs and any other passing down where I'm affecting the quarterback in any other way, and for them to rely on me in those situations where they know that I'm gonna if they put me out there for that rush."

Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell, who the Colts selected in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the 2024 NFL Draft, chose his number to draw motivation from it as a reminder.

Mitchell, despite being seen by some draft prognosticators as a first-round pick, was the 11th wide receiver taken in April's draft.

"Just going through the whole process of the draft, seeing 10 receivers go before me," Mitchell explained. "Once they told me that number (10) was available – I originally picked another number but then I was just up late thinking about it. I couldn't get it off my mind. I was like, yeah, bro, lemme get 10."

Mitchell isn't bothered by who, exactly, was picked ahead of him. That's not what he's focused on. What he is focused on is being the best receiver he can be for the Colts – and making their choice to draft him the right one.

"At the end of the day, it is what it is," Mitchell said. "I'm not bitter about it or anything like that. Definitely congratulations and happy for the people that got picked, but it's just — at the end of the day, it was between me and them, and they got picked, so that's all motivation."

View photos from the Colts rookies on Day 2 of Rookie Minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

View photos from the Colts rookies taking part in Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

Colts rookies arrive at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for check-in, photos and helmet fitting for the start of Rookie Minicamp.