A new tradition: Ohio State announces which player will wear No. 0 in 2020
Ohio State is starting a new tradition with the No. 0.
This year, the NCAA announced that No. 0 would be a legal jersey number for the college football season. Several programs are taking advantage, allowing one player to sport the number this year. For some programs, the new number represents a new tradition.
It will be the case at Ohio State in 2020. The program announced that defensive lineman and team captain Jonathon Cooper will be wearing the number this fall for the Buckeyes, and will be honoring a former Buckeye by doing so — Bill Willis.
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“Toughness. Accountability. Fight. These are all the traits Bill Willis exemplified throughout his life. The number ‘0’ is a badge of honor, it represents fight — the backbone of our culture,” the statement said. “Jonathon Cooper shares these traits and has been presented the opportunity to wear the Block O jersey this season.”
The epitome of #Fight, @JonathonCooper7 was presented the Block 0 jersey to honor the legacy of Bill Willis.
No one more deserving to begin a new tradition than Coop. #GoBuckeyes pic.twitter.com/B2pEotBZ61
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) October 10, 2020
Willis was a defensive lineman at Ohio State in the 1940s and also volunteered to join the United States Army during World War II. After his time with the Buckeyes, Willis went on to play in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. He was one of the first African-American players in the NFL.
Cooper returns to Ohio State for the 2020 season after missing most of last season due to injury. He was credited with 6 tackles, 1 sack and a pass break-up during the 2019 campaign. In 2018, Cooper was responsible for 25 stops, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a blocked kick.
Ohio State opens the season against Nebraska.