Bumper Pool Living Up to His Name

December 27, 2021

Bumper Pool Living Up to His Name

By Joey Johnston

The leading tackler for Arkansas is senior linebacker Bumper Pool.

To answer your question: Yes, that's his real name.

"When you say his name, you smile,'' Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. "He's tough. He has the appropriate name. What can you say? He's Bumper Pool.''

And he's already the stuff of Outback Bowl legend. When the Razorbacks (8-4) meet the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5) in the Jan. 1 game at Raymond James Stadium, the uninitiated fans will probably look around in puzzlement when they hear that name announced and announced and announced at Ray-Jay (probably 12 to 15 times if his tackling trend is maintained).

Pool, a second-team All-SEC selection, is far from a novelty, though.

He's a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker from Lucas, Texas, a four-star recruit who chose Arkansas over the likes of Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and USC, among others.

As a junior, he averaged 11.2 tackles per game, ranking second in the SEC. He currently has 120 tackles this season, second in the SEC only to LSU's Damone Clark (136).

There's plenty to talk about with Pool's game.

Ah, but that name

Technically, it's Bumper James Morris Pool, legally changed when he was age 16. James Morris is a nod to Bumper's paternal grandfather, a non-negotiable condition laid down by his mother before she signed off on "Bumper'' as a nickname. As the story goes, bumper pool was the favorite childhood game of Bumper's father, Jeff. So when his son was born, well, he went with it.

Pool's mother really thought he would first be known as James in school. But Bumper was the name he wrote down. And Bumper was the name that stuck.

On college football Saturdays in the fall, Bumper Pool becomes a Twitter sensation.

There's a guy named Bumper Pool on the University of Arkansas football team and I can die happy now.

How can you not love it?

Bumper Pool might be the greatest cfb name ever. Prove me wrong.

As a freshman, Pool's name was the subject of a question on Jeopardy! "Bumper Pool bounces running backs around as a linebacker for the Razorbacks of this school,'' said the show's host, Alex Trebek.

And the correct answer - in the form of a question?

"What is the University of Arkansas?''

Pittman still laughs at all the "Bumper Pool'' references and appreciates the comedic attention. But he's quick to point this out: Bumper Pool is one heck of a football player, an All-SEC level performer who will get his NFL opportunity. He did not redshirt - even so, there's the bonus COVID-19 season - so he could return in 2022.

"I'll be shocked if he's not a team captain for us if we can get him to come back next year,'' Pittman said. "We're trying like crazy. He's a draftable linebacker, a great player.''

The game performances say so. The statistics say so.

But even before the first tackle was executed, he had made a name for himself at Arkansas.

Bumper Pool.

"I don't get tired of it,'' he said. "It's a football name.''

The name prompts a smile. The game prompts pure respect.