Julian Vann — The Man Who Knew No Fear

2017 Cotton Bowl AT&T Stadium Arlington Texas

If you were in a dark alley somewhere in Ann Arbor, and you could only have one Buckeye football player by your side, who would you choose?

That was the question posed to a dozen players on Sunday at Ohio State’s family day. As you would expect, John Simon got the most votes, but there was a tie at second place between a guy that you know, and one that you don’t. Both Nathan Williams and Julian Vann were cited twice by their teammates.

Who is Julian Vann, you ask?

He is a redshirt freshman walk-on cornerback from Lithonia, Georgia, and he is apparently the baddest man on the planet, or at least he talks like it.

At 5-10 170 pounds, you might not even notice him in a dark alley, but to hear his teammates tell it, you’d know about him soon enough if you were foolish enough to cross his path.

“You gotta know Julian Vann,” said receiver Philly Brown when asked who he wanted with him in that alley.

“I’ll take Julian Vann with me. He thinks he can beat everything. He just thinks he’s the toughest person in the world. He says he can beat a lion. I would like to see ‘JV’ in a dark alley.”

PETA would no doubt laugh at the thought. Not so much at the thought of violence towards animals, but that the mighty “king” of their precious jungle could ever be bested in such a manner.

Teammates are nothing if not helpful, and if Brown has his way, one day he will get to witness this match for the ages.

“He says he can beat a lion, so I’m gonna try to set that up,” he said.

As this plan for a royal rumble was being relayed to me, Vann appeared out of nowhere, a trait that will no doubt come in handy in his future bout.

“No scratches yet,” said Brown, pointing Vann out for me to see. “I’m gonna set that up for him though.”

Is there anything better than having friends who care about you? I don’t think so.
Lest you think the submission of land animals is the only thing the mysterious Vann has on his mind right now, think again. His plans go beyond the typical terrestrial bounds.
“He thinks he can choke a shark out,” said cornerback Bradley Roby.

Can you imagine such a thing? And this soon after ‘Shark Week’ just ended? How does a shark even tap out? Does it just slap its fins?

If you think taming a lion or submitting a shark is tough, even tougher is trying to convince your teammates that you believe what you say when it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever have the opportunity to prove your own words true.

Why do I say that?
Because what Roby said after saying that Vann thinks he can choke a shark out was that he knows that Vann can’t choke a shark out.

“He thinks he can do a lot of things that we know he can’t,” Roby continued.


Wanting to defend Vann, I reverted to my third-grade self and pointed out to Roby that he couldn’t choke out a shark either.

“I know I can’t,” he admitted. “He can’t! I don’t know why he thinks he can.”

Um, maybe because he can?

As I was sitting next to Roby on some bleachers while we were talking about this, I was trying to figure out how it would be possible for Vann to choke out a shark. I suggested that maybe he meant he could do it after he got the shark on land.

“No, he can’t do that either, because he can’t choke out this little guy right here,” Roby said, pointing at a young family member seated in front of us.

“So he definitely ain’t choking out a shark.”

I decided that it was time to end the hearsay and just talk to Julian Vann on my own. He happened to be sitting just a few feet to Roby’s right, and I motioned for him to come over and talk to me, but sometimes people don’t like to brag about their abilities to complete strangers. After asking Vann to come down and talk to us, he got up and began to walk away.

Confused, I asked Roby why Vann was leaving.

“I don’t know,” he said. “JV where you going?!”

And just like that, he was gone. As I look back on it now, I can almost hear the piano tinkles of the theme from ‘The Incredible Hulk’ playing in the background. The only thing Vann was missing was a backpack.

The mystery had walked away, and I hadn’t even gotten a chance to ask him about this confidence in his abilities, or about the doubts that his own teammates had in those same abilities.

However, not everyone believes that Vann’s self-proclaimed talents are strictly imagined. When I asked C.J. Barnett who he wanted in that dark alley with him, I mentioned that Julian Vann said that he could defeat a lion.

“I don’t know about that one,” he said.

But then after thinking about it for a bit, he changed his answer.

“He can do whatever he wants. He’s a Buckeye, so he probably could.”

Personally, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he can do what he says. Even though I didn’t get to talk to the man himself, Julian Vann seems like the type who would love to back up his talk. His biggest problem right now is that he doesn’t have any takers.

What’s the matter Jaws, chicken?