SIDNEY – “OSU Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai likes to say “We’re Buckeye brothers from different mothers!” when he poses for pictures with fellow Ohio State football fans. It would be the perfect line for “Jim-Poster” Dennis Singleton to borrow if he ever meets the real Coach Jim Tressel.
Larry is a celebrity superfan from Urbana, seen often at nationally-televised Buckeye games in his trademark red face paint, wild scarlet-and-gray wig, and massive mane of Buckeye necklaces.
Dennis is a mild mannered superfan from Huber Heights, who remains mild mannered when he dons wire glasses and sweater vest to become the “Tress Look-A-Like” twin of the former Buckeye coach.
Larry and Dennis stopped at the Nov. 21 Shelby County OSU Alumni Association “Buckeye Blood Drive” to greet and pose for Facebook pictures with donors and volunteers. They were in the middle of a flurry of Michigan Week appearances, including the 42nd annual “Great Debate” with the Detroit OSU and MU Alumni Clubs that evening in Livonia, Michigan.
“For years people would say I looked like him,” Dennis said about taking on his Jim Tressel alter ego. “One year my wife got me a sweater vest for Christmas, and it was like magic.”
He started wearing the vest to Wayne High School football games in 2007, and the double takes began. “Braxton Miller was playing and people’s eyes just popped out,” said Dennis.
Dennis’ wife Cathy was inspired to make a video with Dennis as “Tress” and enter it in the Fox Sports “Biggest College Football Fan” competition. The magic continued as they won an expense-paid trip to New Orleans to see the Tressel-coached Buckeyes play for the 2008 BCS National Championship.
“That’s when I ran into Larry. He saw me hanging around outside the Superdome,” said Dennis, and a true Buckeye brotherhood was born. He soon teamed up with Larry and Tipp City’s Roger Thomas, an uncanny mirror-image of legendary Buckeye Coach Woody Hayes. They mugged for the TV cameras in the ‘Shoe (where ESPN dubbed Dennis “Jim-Poster”) and entertained crowds at OSU alumni gatherings.
They had a good run together. Roger passed away in 2014. “It was the three of us,” said Dennis. “I really enjoyed doing things with him. He was a look-a-like. He WAS Woody. I don’t see it with me.”
The Tressel era at OSU ended abruptly in 2011 after an NCAA investigation into rules violations. Dennis enjoyed a long career in sales with Pepsi-Cola in Dayton and Springfield and noted, “I retired the same time Tressel retired.”
Dennis continues to make appearances with Larry, who praises him for his “rapid fire” delivery of historical details about “The Game” as he entertains the Buckeye faithful.
“I always tell alumni groups that I feel like Clark Kent putting on the cape when I put the vest on. It was magic!” said Dennis. “I wish I knew more back then what I know now. I would have got into it a lot sooner.”
Reach the Community Blood Center at (937) 461-3450.