Buckeyes DL Jonathon Cooper reacts to being first player to wear 'Block O' jersey
Ohio State is taking advantage of an NCAA rules change to begin a new tradition in 2020. Defensive lineman Jonathon Cooper is the first player to be honored by it.
With the NCAA allowing players to wear the No. 0 on their jerseys this season, Ohio State will allow one player to sport the number this year. The Buckeyes are calling it the “Block O” jersey, an ode to the school’s logo. Cooper will be the first player at OSU to wear the jersey, which will honor former football star Bill Willis.
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After learning that he’d be wearing the number this season, Cooper made a statement.
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“I’m gonna make sure I’m at my very best every time I put this on,” Cooper said.
🗣️ "I'm gonna make sure I'm at my very best every time I put this on." – @JonathonCooper7 on being the first-ever recipient of the Block 0 jersey.#GoBuckeyes #Fight pic.twitter.com/WXhfzG4qFN
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) October 10, 2020
“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 from Ohio State said. “Jonathon Cooper shares these traits and has been presented the opportunity to wear the Block O jersey this season.”
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.