John Lumpkin, Jr., was one of those rare athletes who played both college football and basketball in the Big Ten. The former Ohio State Buckeye was a tight end on the football field and a rugged forward for the basketball Buckeyes. He joins Rickey Dudley, Art Schlichter, Nate Salley, and Stan White, Sr., as football-basketball Buckeyes.
Lumpkin ranks seventh all-time among Ohio State tight ends with 757 receiving yards in his career (1996-98) and is first in that group with his 10 touchdown catches, doing that with just 46 career receptions.
The 6-foot-8 Lumpkin played in 49 games for the basketball Buckeyes and started 19 times. He played in the 1994-95 and 1996-97 seasons, missing the year in between with a foot injury.
Lumpkin, 34, graduated in four years and has returned to his native Dayton, where he works as an investment adviser for JP Morgan Chase. Lumpkin and his wife, Anissa, have a 19-month-old son, John III.
It had to be at the end of the 1996 football season. We beat Arizona State in a really close game in the Rose Bowl (20-17), and I caught a red-eye flight out of Los Angeles back to Detroit. The next day, I played with the basketball team in Ann Arbor, and we beat Michigan. Two games, two sports, in two days, 2,000 miles apart — I'm not sure anyone else has ever done that.
Playing two sports — I wear that with pride, and the fact I was able to do it for multiple years makes me even more proud. It was tough — I didn't get to come home a lot — but I learned to manage my time and make use of every minute.
The first thing is you need to get the coaches from both sports to agree to it, to the sharing part, but if someone has the opportunity to play two sports and can pull it off, I would recommend it. You can't duplicate the experience.
I stay close with quite a few of them, and still consider many of my former teammates as my good friends. You go through the battles with those guys, and you establish friendships that last forever.
It is an automatic door-opener everywhere I go. A lot of people remember what you did and say they appreciate what you did. There's hardly a day that goes by when Ohio State does not come up.
I am able to stay involved on the basketball side, since I coach at Trotwood Madison with Mark Baker, another former Buckeye.
I get to at least several games every year, and, of course, I see every game, either in person or on television. This is the time of year my wife accepts the fact that she will lose me for a while.
I definitely watch that closely, and I have to say that it's exciting to see their tight ends out there catching some passes, and it's not one just every few games.
I knew Stoneburner was out with an injury, so I contacted him on Facebook and offered a little advice as a former tight end who had a few injuries to deal with in his career. I just told him to take some time and let his ankle heal and not to rush back.
It is a huge part, even though my playing days ended quite a while ago. The network of Ohio State and its former players is incredibly strong, and everybody's always willing to help each other out. It is a family-like environment, with hundreds and hundreds of guys in that family.
— Matt Markey