Each week throughout football season I will feature a tattoo of a UC football player. Everybody has ink these days and these tatts obviously mean something to the guys. They spend plenty of hours and energy coming up with the perfect concept. They should be given the opportunity to show them off.
This week features Marcus Barnett: the king of ink on the Bearcats football team.
CINCINNATI -- Every tattoo tells a story.
The tattoo of the skyline of
The tattoo of Michael Jackson tells a story of a kid who grew up dancing to Billie Jean.
But none of the eyelid, neck or back ink truly tell the story of wide receiver Marcus Barnett's love of tattoos like the answer to the simplest question.
How many tattoos do you have?
"Eighty-five," he said, "and counting."
When asking around to find out who owns the best tattoos on the Cincinnati Bearcats, the answer was unanimous.
"Bones," said D.J. Woods, who owns a collection of tattoos himself.
Bones is Barnett, it could be because of the UC receiver's 173-pound frame, or it could stem from the spine he has tattooed running up the middle of his back.
As soon as Barnett turned 18, he knew he would be come a regular at the tattoo parlor.
"My brother has tats, my cousins, just about everybody I knew," Barnett said. "I have been wanting to get them for a while, so what I did was I started drawing them out."
There was only one problem.
"And then I showed my mom (the drawings) and she wouldn't let me get them," Barnett said.
Clearly, mother's words only held so much weight. Barnett inked one, then another, then another. The drawings became a reality on an almost daily basis as he began to piece together to a larger puzzle.
"My mom only knew about one," Barnett said. "Then next time she saw me I had like 20-some."
He tattooed a mustache on the inside of his index finger, so he could lift it to his upper lip for a laugh.
"That is my business-man look right there," he said.
There was the tattoo of a seven on his left hand and 11 on the other, with the logo of 7-11 convenience stores. It owns a triple meaning for the senior. Like 7-11, he's always open. In the book of Judges, the number correlates to the verse which states if you listen to God he will strengthen your hands. Then, when Barnett's son was born, he weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
When Barnett shuts his eyes, it exposes two eyelid tattoos reading "amour vrai," which means true love in French.
Across his each of his temples "Truly blessed" is inked.
It got to the point when Barnett decided to get a tattoo on his neck, he did everything in his power to keep his mother from finding out. He would tilt his chin down and look at the ground during postgame interviews and make sure he buttoned up his shirt if he was ever in a picture.
"One day I slipped up after practice," Barnett said. "She saw one of those pictures and said, 'I told you not to get any more tattoos.'"
How many tatts were already done when that conversation happened?
"Probably about 20," he said.
Barnett's mother gave up. Her son obviously was determined to cover his body. He's currently working on a complete sleeve on his right arm. And if you ask him, he'll tell you, there is no such thing as a complete sleeve until zero skin shows.
Plus, half of his left arm is wide open for artwork.
Though, for the 22-year-old Barnett, he will probably slow down the 20-tattoo per year pace he is currently riding.
"When it first started, I was getting a lot because I knew what I wanted," he said. "Now I am getting picky. They have a lot of different meanings now."
Eventually, he will either run out of ideas or run out of space, right?
"I got a lot of work to do," he said. "I don't think that far ahead."