AndyVance's picture
July 23, 2013 at 8:36a

Well, thank goodness the day that couldn't end fast enough finally did. Let's cleanse our palates with the next installment of our countdown to kickoff, shall we?

Some numbers are more popular than others. In some cases, it's a function of what numbers are available for a given position, and in other cases, great players of yesteryear fuel younger players' desire to wear a certain number, creating more potentially great players at a given jersey designation. In the case of #39, there aren't an overwhelming number of names one recognizes right away.

In fact, of the two dozen men to wear #39 since 1934, only half actually earned a varsity letter, none of whom earned All-American honors. Of the dozen lettermen, only three were named team captain, and two of those men in turn were named All-Big Ten selections.

As it turns out, #39 was something of a "starter jersey" for many Buckeyes over the years, with no fewer than 10 players wearing some other number during their time at Ohio State, and in many cases wearing #39 for a single season. This was the case, for example, with Denman "Sonny" Gordon, an all-conference defensive back (once known as the "rover back," or as he would have preferred, "the nutcracker") who played in the 1986 Cotton Bowl for the Buckeyes and actually wore #7 for the bulk of his career.

Gordon was drafted, like many Buckeye standouts of yesteryear, by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He was later waived and signed by Tampa Bay, and was listed on their roster for a single season, but recorded no stats (although a Buccaneers' fan site says he got six tackles).

More recently, one future NFL player wore #39, at the end of the John Cooper era. Jamar Martin, a standout at Canton's McKinley high school, was a running back for the Buckeyes from 1998-2001. Used as a rough and tumble fullback, Martin recorded 226 career rushing yards in 61 attempts, and caught 21 passes for 192 yards. In total, he scored six touchdowns for Ohio State.

Selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Martin spent four seasons in the league, including two with Dallas and one each with the Dolphins and the Jets (he spent a fifth on the New Orleans practice squad). He played one season in the Arena Football League. Given that the fullback position has lost some of the luster of its former glory, it's not entirely surprising the Martin's NFL stats aren't much to talk about.

The incumbent at #39 is a walk-on kicker named Kyle Clinton. A graduate of Dublin-Coffman high school, Clinton walked on to the football team in January 2012, playing in his first game as he kicked off twice in the season opener vs. Miami. He transferred to Ohio State in the fall of 2011 after competing for Ohio University in 2010, where he played in every game for the Bobcats that season.

A three-year letterman at Coffman, Clinton also wrestled and played lacrosse; he was named first-team Division I all-state (football) by the Associated Press as a senior in 2009. It is unclear, given the presence of water in this practice photo, if Clinton is the infamous kicker referenced by Coach Kerry F. Coombs in the viral "you're a kicker" video.

And that'll do it for today's installment of the countdown. If you've missed it so far, here is the archive of the series for your reading/viewing enjoyment:

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