Nunamaker remembered as a football great

by | April 9, 2016 9:45 am

Last Updated: April 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Julian Nunamaker’s NFL carrier’s roots are from Manning, and now the three-year professional football player will be a postmortem induction into the Clarendon County Athletic Hall of Fame.

Nunamaker played football, basketball and ran track for Manning High before graduating in 1964.

One of Nunamaker’s daughters, Lee Nunamaker Pipken captured her father’s love for Manning in a letter to the Clarendon County Athletic Hall of Fame committee.

“As a child, my father often regaled my sister and me with exciting and adventurous bedtime stories, most of which took place in Manning,” she wrote. “The way my dad described Manning, you would think it was the most wonderful place on Earth.

My father received many honors and awards during his lifetime; however, he loved his hometown and would probably consider this honor the most important of them all.”

After graduating from Manning High Nunamaker walked on to the University of Tennessee Martin football team.

Former UT Martin head football coach Bob Carroll remembers Nunamaker as a hard worker.

“Nunamaker entered the University of Tennessee Martin in 1964 as a 6-foot-3, 168 pound walk on. Redshirted his freshman year,” Carroll said. “Nunamaker became a four-year starter, and as a senior he weighed 245 pounds without a loss of speed or agility.”


Nunamaker helped his team to the best season record in UT Martin history of 10-1. His team was also victorious in the 1967 Tangerine Bowl. During his senior season Nunamaker accumulated 90 individual tackles and was invited to four all star games: the Blue-Gray game, the Senior Bowl, the North- South game and the American Football Coaches All Star Game.

“Julian left behind a legacy of outstanding athletic ability and fun,” Carroll said. “He was a wonderful individual whose warm personality attracted people.”

Nunnamaker was also named the Newspaper Enterprise Association’s first team All American and first team Kodak All American after his senior season at UT Martin.

The Buffalo Bills drafted Nunnamaker with the first pick of the third round in 1969. He played two seasons there, and started 1 game. He also had three fumble recoveries for 40 yards, respectively. Injuries ultimately caught up the defensive end causing an early end to his NFL carrier.

In 1971 Nunamaker was named the head football coach for Halls High in Hall, Tennessee, from there he would bounce around to several different teams, the last being Camden Central High School in Camden, Tennessee.

Jenna Nunamaker Young, in a letter to the Clarendon County Athletic Hall of Fame, said her father “was the greatest man I have ever known.”

“I am extremely humble and honored four your recognition of his accomplishments,” she wrote. “His love, dedication and determination for family, peers, sports and coaching has rightfully earned him a forever home in the Athletic Hall of Fame. He always enjoyed the spotlight. Dad, it’s your time to shine!

Nunamaker was inducted in UT Martin’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1983. UT Martin’s press release said that Nunamaker was, “Probably one of UT Martin’s most successful walk-on athletes.

Nunamaker was also inducted into the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame in Huntingdon, TN in 2002, as one of the six charter members. He served as vice-mayor and alderman of Bruceton, Tennessee; served as a Carrol County commissioner and chairman for the Carroll County Republican Party; volunteered as a member of the Lions Club, Huntingdon Elk Lodge, little league commissioner, and the Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center; and served as master of ceremonies and Santa Claus at countless community events across West Tennessee.

Nunamaker died Feb. 25, 1995 from complications of a vehicle wreck.

“Thank you so very much for the honor you have bestowed to my late husband, Julian Nunamaker,” his widow, Jenni Nunamaker, said. “He would be so grateful to know that his hometown remembered and are recognizing the accomplishments he attained on the football field as a player and coach, on the basketball court and on the running track. It is truly an honor for my family and me.”


comments » 3

  1. Comment by Brent Gogel

    April 10, 2016 at 14:23

    Was a great coach, teacher, and friend. He had an awesome personality and you could talk to him about anything. I remember the next day in high school after he passed everyone was heartbroken. He definitely touched alot of peoples lives and I am glad to have been one of them

  2. Comment by Trey Crews

    April 10, 2016 at 16:05

    We ALL would like to be remembered but I don’t know anyone that is remembered more. When a funny story has been told someone will say do you remember when “a Julian story” follows and usually tops the previous story, even this long since he left us. Miss him still “Jodie”

  3. Comment by Tom and Paulette Crews

    April 13, 2016 at 00:18

    Julian Nunamaker was truly a great storyteller and could “weave a tale” to the extent that when he entered a room, people navigated to his table because they knew they would be entertained and no sadness would prevail. Like the great Robin Williams, Julian was never at a loss for words and always had an answer which was humorous ninety percent of the time. Julian not only sought out “the underdog” in the community,but most of all in the classroom. He may not have spent hours on his lesson plan, but as the school counselor, I never worried about self esteem issues or bullying in Julian’s classes. He had the ability to make them feel good about themselves and be accepting of each other. Many entered his classes as “wall flowers”, but came out as “beautiful bloomers”. Julian was our friend on a professional level, as a community member, and as a backyard neighbor. We will always cherish the wonderful and fun times that we spent together. Julian, keep God laughing!

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