Top Vikings defender making a big change for the 2024 season

Minnesota Vikings LB Ivan Pace Jr.
Minnesota Vikings LB Ivan Pace Jr. / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Throughout their history, the Minnesota Vikings have experienced a bunch of success with a number of undrafted free agents (see John Randle and Adam Thielen), and last season, linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. became the latest undrafted player to exceed expectations in a purple and gold uniform.

Despite being named a unanimous First-Team All-American and winning the AAC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2022 during his final year at the University of Cincinnati, every team in the NFL, including the Vikings, decided to pass on him in the 2023 NFL Draft.

He ultimately agreed to a contract with Minnesota shortly after the final day of the 2023 draft, and a few months later, he proved a ton of doubters wrong when he emerged as a starter for 11 games with the Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings LB Ivan Pace Jr. making a change for the 2024 season

As Pace prepares for his second season as a starting linebacker in Minnesota's defense, he's going to a look a little different when he returns to the field.

According to NFL Jersey Numbers on Twitter on Wednesday, the undrafted Vikings defender will reportedly be switching his jersey number for the 2024 season. After wearing the No. 40 on his jersey during his rookie campaign in 2023, Pace will now wear the No. 0 on his uniform next season.

During his college career at Cincinnati, Pace wore the No. 0 on his jersey. But when he joined Minnesota last year, that jersey number had already been claimed by pass rusher Marcus Davenport, so he went with the No. 40 on his uniform instead.

Earlier this offseason, Davenport signed with the Detroit Lions, and that meant the No. 0 jersey for the Vikings no longer had a home. So Pace has quickly claimed his old jersey number back and he made sure to do it before Minnesota adds even more new players to their roster later this week during the 2024 NFL Draft.

As a rookie with the Vikings in 2023, Pace appeared in all 17 of the team's regular-season games, and he was a starter for 11 of them. During his time on the field with Minnesota last year, he accumulated 102 tackles (two for a loss), 10 pressures, nine QB hits, 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one interception, and one fumble recovery.

With Brian Flores sticking around as the Vikings' defensive coordinator for another season, we should expect Pace's performance to reach an even higher level during the 2024 campaign, especially now that he'll be wearing a familiar number on his jersey.

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