STANFORD -- Receiver Ty Montgomery's quest for a fresh start this season included a number change. He ditched No. 88, worn since his freshman season, in favor of No. 7.
The new number was selected because of its biblical significance, but Stanford needs it to represent what the junior does on the field -- score touchdowns -- when the fifth-ranked Cardinal opens the season Saturday against San Jose State.
By default, Montgomery is the leader of a unit that has underachieved in recent years. He has just two career touchdowns catches, which is two more than any of the receivers expected to join him in the rotation.
"I've got a new mindset, a new body and the new number," said Montgomery, who doubles as Stanford's No. 1 kick returner. "I feel ready. I feel fast."
Montgomery was swift and healthy as a freshman, when he averaged 14.6 yards per catch and had a breakout performance in the Fiesta Bowl (seven receptions and a touchdown).
Expectations soared before last year -- he was on the watch list for the Hornung Award, given the nation's most versatile player -- but a midseason knee injury forced him to miss three games and limited his production down the stretch.
Now healthy, he's expected to play a central role for the Cardinal, which must replace its top playmakers. If Montgomery sputters, there's a good chance the passing game will do the same -- thereby allowing defenses to gang up on Stanford's running game.
Coach David Shaw, a former receiver, was impressed with what he saw of Montgomery in training camp.
"I wanted him to get his swagger back, to feel good about what he does well," Shaw said. "He's no longer a young guy. He's the most experienced receiver we have, and he's taking on a leadership role.
"Our receivers are a very tight-knit group. (Montgomery) understands that and cheers for the other guys. That's a huge tone-setter."
Montgomery and defensive end Aziz Shittu will be the last to wear the number, which is being retired to honor former Cardinal John Elway. Stanford announced in early August that the number is being retired to honor former quarterback John Elway.
Shaw and Spartans offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty coached together at the University of San Diego on Jim Harbaugh's staff.
When Shaw accompanied Harbaugh to Stanford before the 2007 season, Dougherty remained at USD and worked for Harbaugh's replacement: Caragher.
"I love (Dougherty) like he's family," Shaw said.
Caragher grew up in Morgan Hill and attended Bellarmine College Prep, the alma mater of two Stanford starters: right guard Kevin Danser and nickel back Usua Amanam.
"I am aware," Amanam said with a smile when asked about Caragher's high school affiliation.
"I was 50-50, but now I'm in favor of playing," he said. 'We're antsy."