OSU Inked: Revisiting the series with a focus on Oregon State Football players

Ryan Harlan, Sports Contributor


*Editor’s note: John McCarten’s name was misspelled in the print issue, but has been fixed here

Tattoos are beautiful, intricate designs on the surface, but beneath those designs lie a deeper meaning to those that have them.

The tattoos of Beaver Football are on full display in their social media series called “Inked,” which started in late March and features football players redshirt-junior defensive back Alton Julian, redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Makiya Tongue, redshirt-junior wide receiver Rweha Munyagi Jr., redshirt-senior inside linebacker Kyrei Fisher-Morris, and senior defensive back Rejzohn Wright and redshirt- junior outside linebacker John McCartan.

The goal of the series is to provide the fans with more opportunities to know more about the player’s stories through highlighting their tattoos.

“I feel like it’s good for people to know us outside of wearing a helmet, just to know where we come from and what we stand for and how we want to express ourselves to other people, rather than just seeing us on the field,” said Julian, who is a redshirt-junior and defensive back in the team.

The idea for the series came from Hallie Utter of Beaver Athletics, who pitched the idea of the Inked Series in a meeting to Nicklos Bristol, director of Football Digital and Brand Strategy.

“We’re trying to do a little more on telling their stories off the field, while keeping in mind that the goal of this was to have a larger showcase of interests in our football players,” Bristol said. “Our lead intern, Hallie Utter, brought up the idea to me. She’s the one that has taken the lead creative role on the project in telling the stories of the tattoos that players have.”

The overall response of the players, according to Bristol, has been positive about the Inked Series. This series has allowed players that are featured to promote their stories through different styles of photos that are provided to them from the photoshoot.

“Since this was a different style of feature than we had done in the past, we needed to take more time developing the series and explaining its goals to our student-athletes,” Bristol said. “Once we talked through it and got them involved, they were excited at how unique the feature was and how it showed a side of them that fans don’t normally get to see. In turn, we have shared these photos with them so they can use them to promote their stories and personal brands as well.”

Julian was one of the first players featured when the Inked Series debuted.

“To be honest, I’ve always wanted someone to ask me like why I got my tattoos or “What does it mean to you,” because I know some people just get tattoos because it looks good,” Julian said. “My mom and my dad always told me to get something meaningful to me. I feel like I’ve always wanted somebody to ask me about that and once they ask me, I feel like it’s a good time to express myself and express why I got the tattoos that I have.”

Julian, like many of his other teammates, has an interest in tattoos, and recently got a new one marking his recovery after a season-ending injury last season when the Beavers faced off against the University of Utah Utes on Oct. 23 in Corvallis..

“I got a new tattoo when I was back home for spring break, it says “The marathon continues,” it has flags on it… It’s from the rapper Nipsey Hussle,” Julian said. “I put the word Marathon in red because the marathon continues and your life is going to continue no matter what you go through. I recently went through knee surgery, so I feel life’s going to continue with or without me, and always got to push through whatever you want to happen, and then just wish and pray for the best.”

For Julian, the most significant tattoo is the one that honors his late grandmother, who he spent a lot of time with.

“I feel like that they all represent me, and they all represent where I come from, what I’ve gone through,” Julian said. “So I feel like they’re all not the same but they all mean the same to me. The only one that would stand out the most to me is my grandma’s and that’s because she was a person that I lived with a lot. I feel that one would be the most important to me, but all of them are up there and mean the same.”

Other players like Julian have similar tributes to family members who have been impactful in their lives, such as Fisher-Morris and Munyagi Jr. Tattoos allow those players to keep their family members close to them even if they’re longer here anymore to honor their memories.

Although Inked will end soon, that hasn’t stopped Bristol and his team from thinking about revisiting or doing a similar feature series in the future.

“This edition of Inked will end in about a month, but we are hoping to revisit it again in the future,” Bristol said. “Our larger goal with the project is to have similar series moving forward that focus on highlighting our student-athletes’ stories and interests off the field.”

Julian also expressed interest in seeing the Inked series continue in the future.

“I like tattoos, so I like to see what ideas people have or what new designs people are going with, so yeah, I for sure would like to see it continue in the future,” Julian said.

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