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Utah football plans to retire No. 22 in the wake of Aaron Lowe’s and Ty Jordan’s deaths

Coach Kyle Whittingham wants to honor the two fallen players

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Flowers, balloons, and messages memorialize Utah Utes cornerback Aaron Lowe (22) at the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

There have been questions as to what the University of Utah football program should do moving forward with No. 22 in the wake of two deaths in nine months.

On Monday, in his first meeting with the media since Aaron Lowe’s death on Sept. 26, Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham made his feelings known.

“No. 22, you won’t see anyone wearing No. 22 in this program as long as I’m head coach,” Whittingham said. “We’d like to see that retired permanently. That is our wish, and I think you’ll see that happen.”

The late running back Ty Jordan wore No. 22 during his spectacular freshman season in 2020, culminating in his being named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. Jordan died on Christmas night, the victim of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound. Following Jordan’s death, Lowe changed his jersey number from 2 to 22 to honor his close friend and high school teammate from West Mesquite High School.

Lowe was shot and killed in the early-morning hours of Sept. 26 outside a house party in Sugar House. Salt Lake City police on Sunday morning arrested Buk Mawut Buk and booked him into Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of aggravated murder, attempted murder and felony discharge of a firearm.

Buk has yet to be formally charged with any crime in connection with Lowe’s death, but he is currently being held without bail.

Whittingham indicated Monday that the athletic department is in the early stages of deciding what it wants to do in terms of a remembrance for Lowe. But there will likely be some similarities in how Lowe and Jordan are honored.

Inside Utah’s new home locker room at Rice-Eccles Stadium as part of the $80 million Ken Garff Red Zone, Jordan has a dedicated locker. During the Sept. 2 season-opener vs. Weber State, Utah dedicated portal 22 at the Rice-Eccles to Jordan, complete with the school-produced ‘LLTJ’ logo. That LLTJ No. 22 logo has since been altered by the school to fit ‘TJ’ and ‘AL’ inside the pair of 2s shaped like a heart.

Between the third and fourth quarters of the opener, instead of a moment of silence for Jordan, Utah instead conducted a ‘moment of loudness,’ to cheer for Jordan. No fans were able to cheer for Jordan during his lone season at Utah due to fans being barred from Pac-12 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.