UGA Football Helmet Project
All of the following information was discovered through Patrick's personal extensive research and is not considered "official" in accordance to the University of Georgia. If you have any additional details/information or believe some sort of error or omission has been made, please email Samples@patrickgarbin.com.
1890s to 1920s
George Butler (1893)
Although the leather helmet was supposedly first worn in college football in 1893, the UGA football team did not begin utilizing headgear until several years after the program's inception in 1892. During the 1890s, the only type of facial equipment worn by most football players, including those at Georgia, was "nose armor."
1900 Georgia-GA Tech game
During the late-1890s/early-1900s, some players, but certainly not all, for Georgia and its opposition began wearing a flimsy, leather piece of equipment to protect their heads. Taken from the Atlanta Constitution, the photo from the 1900 Georgia-Georgia Tech game contains a couple of players (to the left) with "helmets," while seemingly everyone else is without headgear.
1912 Georgia-GA Tech game
Only a little over a decade following the teams' meeting in 1900, the Georgia-Georgia Tech game had progressed from only a few players wearing helmets to most game participants sporting some sort of headgear.
Charlie Wiehrs (1923)
Charlie Wiehrs, a standout halfback on Georgia's freshman team of 1920, suffered a fractured skull in practice during that season. After being rushed to St. Mary's Hospital in Athens, he nearly died during surgery as a blood clot and a portion of his skull was removed. Three years later, Wiehrs returned to the gridiron and while wearing a specially constructed leather headpiece to protect his skull, he lettered on the varsity squads of 1923 and 1924.
Homer Key (1931)
In the early 1930s, Georgia's helmet began appearing not brown leather-like in color, as before, but rather a darker shade -- most likely black.
Jack Griffith and Homer Key (1932)
During the 1932 season, some players featured their jersey numbers on their helmets. Although the numbers appear to be hand painted, this is the first case I found where Georgia had any type of logo or print on its helmets. Notice while Griffith's (No. 34) number appears on his helmet, ballcarrier Key's (No. 11) does not.
1937 Georgia-Miami (Fla) game
In the 1937 season, the Bulldogs debuted a helmet which was two-tone in color, or at least was made of two different shades of leather. In the photo, which is from Georgia's first-ever night football game in the very first contest played in what would later be known as the Orange Bowl, a difference between the two shades can especially be seen.
1941 to 1951
Frank Sinkwich and Lamar "Racehorse" Davis (1941)
In what would be a team mainstay for nearly an entire quarter-century, silver helmets were first worn by the Bulldogs beginning with the 1941 campaign. As the forward pass started to be more popular in the sport, teams began coloring their helmets to allow receivers to be more distinguishable to passers. This would certainly make sense for Georgia since head coach Wally Butts had built the Bulldog offense into one of the premier passing teams in the nation by 1941.
Louis Woodruff (1941)
Although Woodruff, a senior fullback in 1941, appears to be wearing one of the Bulldogs' older, solid black helmets and posed during practice, this photo is the earliest I've witnessed of a Georgia helmet with a facemask.
FRANK SINKWICH (1941)
In the second game of the 1941 season against South Carolina, star halfback Frank Sinkwich broke his jaw and would have it wired shut for the remainder of the year. Leading up to the third game against Ole Miss, a story was released indicating Sinkwich was to wear a cage-like contraption made of steel, which was laced up in the back, to protect his jaw.
Frank Sinkwich vs. Ole Miss in 1941
However, Sinkwich refused to wear the cage-like helmet, and understandably so, and instead was equipped with a much simpler protector against the Rebels.
Frank Sinkwich vs. Columbia in 1941
Beginning with the fourth game against Columbia, Sinkwich wore yet a different piece for his jaw, which extended towards the top of his helmet. This protector was evidently used for the rest of the season. Ironically, and as the site Uni Watch discovered a couple of years ago, NONE of these images match the Sinkwich jaw-protecting helmet on display at UGA's Butts-Mehre Building.
JOHN RAUCH (1946)
During the fourth game of the 1946 season against Oklahoma A&M, standout quarterback John Rauch broke his cheek bone resulting from, of all things, his return of a kickoff. Like Frank Sinkwich five years before, Rauch's leather helmet was equipped with extra protection -- a mask made of spring steel covered with a thin piece of leather.
Late in the '46 season against Chattanooga, Rauch, who continued to wear his "man from Mars" headgear, follows ballcarrier Dick McPhee.
Billy Henderson at top, No. 76 Herb St. John at bottom in 1947
At some point during the 1940s, jersey numbers began being printed on the back of Georgia's silver leather helmet.
1952 to 1955
John Carson in 1952
In 1952, Georgia's headgear appeared just like it had the year before, except instead of being made of leather, the Bulldogs wore a hard suspension helmet for the first time.
Jimmy Harper in 1954
Like the photo from 1947, Georgia's helmet from 1952 to 1955 had no logo or stripe, but included the jersey number on its back.
Joe O'Malley in 1954
During this era, more and more Bulldogs' helmets were beginning to include facemasks of all shapes and sizes, including the most unusual.
1955 Georgia-Clemson game
A helmet with a facemask was extra beneficial, including if a fight was to ever break out, like this one against Clemson. But don't tell that to assistant Quinton Lumpkin (circled), who decided to join in the fracas with no headgear protection whatsoever.
1956 to 1958
Gene Littleton in 1956
When Georgia opened its 1956 football season at night against Vanderbilt, the Buldogs had added a single red stripe to its helmet.
Billy Hearn in 1956
A better view of Georgia's new addition to its helmet for the '56 campaign...
Jimmy Orr in 1957
As before, Georgia still displayed jersey numbers to go along with the addition of the stripe.
1959 to 1961
Charley Britt in 1959
After only three seasons, Georgia removed the red stripe from its helmet in 1959 and returned to its same design from 1952 to 1955. Not wearing some sort of a facemask had become a rarity, although some players did indeed go without, like Charley Britt.
The top photo depicts Britt not wearing a facemask early in the '59 season; however, by the Florida game that same year (bottom photo), Britt was wearing a single-bar protector.
1962 Georgia-Clemson game
The Bulldogs opened their 1962 season with their usual logoless and stripeless helmet design. This photo is following a Georgia win in the fourth game of the year.
1962 Georgia-Florida St. game
Suddenly, in the middle of the '62 campaign and without any sort of explanation I could find, the Bulldogs' helmet exhibited a logo for the first time ever. The red square-style "G" was first exhibited for the fifth game of the year.
Wally Williamson in 1962
Curiously, according to one source, Georgia returned to the logoless helmet for games six, seven, and eight. However, for the final two contests of the season -- Auburn and Georgia Tech -- the Bulldogs went back to the red "G" helmet.
Larry Rakestraw in 1963
For the 1963 season, Georgia had returned once again to its traditional, logoless helmet.
1964 to 1976
No. 53 Jack Davis, Leon Armbrester at bottom in 1964
Upon the arrival of Vince Dooley in 1964, the new head football coach, believing there had been too much emphasis on the color silver, introduced white pants and a red helmet. The new helmet included a gray facemask, a white stripe, a white jersey number on the back, and a black oval "G" set against a white background as its logo.
Mack Faircloth in 1964
Notably, this photo of senior punter Faircloth from the 1964 Sun Bowl is the latest image I know of depicting a game-worn Georgia football helmet without a facemask.
Taking field for season opener of 1969
Prior to the start of the 1969 season, it was reported Georgia would replace its "G" oval and be one of "more than 310 football-playing institutions" featuring a "100" logo. The new logo was to commemorate college football's 100th anniversary. In reality, only 60 to 70 schools, including just three SEC teams, exhibited the "100" logo. When the Bulldogs took the field for their first game against Tulane, as you can see, they were still sporting their black "G."
James Ray in 1970
Finally, some color...
Phil Sullivan at top, Chuck Heard at bottom during 1970 GA Tech game
Erk Russell, Georgia's acclaimed defensive coordinator from 1964 to 1980, rearranged Georgia Tech's "G.T.A.A." (Georgia Tech Athletic Association) to form his own slogan for the Bulldogs: "G.A.T.A." (Get After Tech's Ass or Get After Their Ass). From what I've observed, some players (seemingly all defensive players) as early as 1966 and as late as 1970 printed Coach Russell's "GATA" on the white stripe at the front of their helmets.
Andy Johnson in 1971
Only three years after Ohio State's Woody Hayes was apparently the first to do so in 1968, Coach Dooley began awarding players with helmet stickers in the form of white stars.
Phil Sullivan in 1971
Each star decal recognized individual extra efforts (i.e., 100-yard rushing game, intercepting a pass, etc.) as well as team accomplishments.
Butch Box in 1975
During the mid-1970s, a player could earn a black star by being recognized as a "Top Dog" award winner. Normally, three black stars were handed out per game: the top Georgia player on offense, defense, and special teams. Notice these black stars along the centered white stripe of "headhunter" Butch Box, who was often the "Top Dog" on special teams.
Ben Zambiasi in 1976
Senior offensive lineman Hugh Hendrix, or "probably the most-liked guy on the team" according to a teammate, died of what was regarded as a rare blood infection roughly two months prior to the start of the 1976 season. To this day, Hendrix's death remains somewhat of a medical mystery. The Bulldogs dedicated the year to their fallen teammate and placed a black "64" -- Hendrix's jersey number in 1975 -- decal on the back of their helmets. To read more about Hendrix, visit the Inspired By Hugh posting.
1977 to 1995
Jeff Pyburn in 1977
In 1977, the helmet was slightly altered as Georgia changed from a gray to a white facemask.
Erk Russell and Vince Dooley in 1977
I couldn't resist... Two of the more distinguishable Georgia "helmets" of the mid-to-late 1970s: Erk's bald dome and Coach Dooley's oversized, helmet-like cap.
Daryll Jones in 1983
Andre "Pulpwood" Smith in 1984
For the 1983 season, the Bulldogs featured a small black logo on the back of their helmets depicting the official logo of the state of Georgia's 250th year anniversary. The state was founded in 1733 when General James Oglethorpe landed at what is now Savannah.
After several years of exhibiting the name of their helmet's manufacturer, the Bulldogs began featuring "DAWGS" on the front nameplate decal of their headgear in 1984. To date, Georgia continues to sport this front decal.
Rodney Hampton in '89 Peach Bowl
During seven seasons from 1983 to 1989, twenty "bone" stickers were given out to players who made game-winning or game-saving plays, beginning with roverback Terry Hoage for his game-saving tipped pass against Vanderbilt in '83. The bones were distributed for 12 different games, no player ever received more than one, and the stickers were displayed at the front of the helmet. The final bones were awarded to snapper Jimps Cole, safety Ben Smith, and tailback Rodney Hampton for their efforts against Florida in 1989.
John Allen in 1991
In 1991, head coach Ray Goff ended a 20-year tradition by discontinuing the white stars on the back of the players' helmets. Apparently, Goff and his staff felt the stickers had become too "individualistic."
At the request of the seniors on the team, the Bulldogs altered their helmet design for just one game during the 1991 season -- the Independence Bowl versus Arkansas -- by wearing a black facemask and adding a black stripe to the existing centered white stripe.
Robert Edwards in 1994
Players wore a black heart on their helmets throughout the 1994 season. The sticker was in memory of those who died in (or whose lives were shattered by) flooding that damaged parts of the state that year, as well as in memory of former SEC commissioner Boyd McWhorter and acclaimed writer and Bulldog superfan Lewis Grizzard.
1996 to 2000
Jermaine Smith (1996)
Hines Ward (1997)
Champ Bailey (1998)
When Jim Donnan became the Bulldogs' head coach in 1996, he slightly changed the helmet design by adding a black stripe to the centered white stripe (similarly to the two-tone stripe Georgia wore for the 1991 Independence Bowl).
During the 1997 season, Georgia featured an "NCAA" football logo, which was worn by other teams, as well.
For 1998, the NCAA logo changed in design from the year before. In seasons to follow, the Bulldogs began sporting an SEC logo instead of one from the NCAA.
Cory Robinson (1999 LSU game)
Just hours after Georgia defeated Central Florida in the third game of the 1999 season, offensive line coach Pat Watson suffered a heart attack and would pass away later that night. In memory of Watson, the team displayed a white "PW" decal on the right side at the back of its helmet for the LSU game.
Raised "PW" helmet following victory in 2000 Outback Bowl
The "PW" decal was worn by the team throughout the rest of the '99 campaign.
2001 to Present
Jasper Sanks (2001)
When the Bulldogs opened their 2001 season against Arkansas State under new head coach Mark Richt, the team had dropped Coach Donnan's black stripe and returned to the same helmet design from 1977 to 1995 (although Richt's white stripe is supposedly slightly wider than the one featured during the Dooley and Goff eras).
David Pollack (2004)
Although the Richt regime returned the Bulldogs to a more traditional helmet design, a new tradition of sorts began under the head coach with the adding and changing of helmet decals at a near furious pace. It started in Richt's first season when Georgia began issuing award decals for the first time in over a decade. Starting in 2001 and continuing today, players are given white and black bones -- white bones for onfield performance and black bones for academic performance.
Verron Haynes (2001)
Jon Stinchcomb (2001)
Immediately following the 9/11 tragedy, Bulldog players featured an American Flag decal on the left side at the back of their helmets.
After standout defensive lineman David Jacobs suffered a career-ending stroke in a mid-November practice in 2001, teammates featured a "99" decal -- Jacobs' jersey number -- on their helmets. Like pictured Stinchcomb, some players placed the sticker on the centered white stripe, while others placed them towards the back near the left ear hole. Also highlighted in this photo is the "SEC" decal worn at the time.
Brandon Coutu (2004)
Brannan Southerland (2005)
For the following season in 2002, the American flag decal was moved over to the right side of the helmet, where it remains today, although the team has had a few variations of the flag's design over the years.
Following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Bulldogs, like a number of schools in the area, exhibited a helmet sticker including the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to honor the victims of the storm.
Thomas Brown (2006)
Following the death of the aforementioned Erk Russell on September 8, 2006, the Georgia football team paid tribute to its one-time legendary assistant coach by wearing a black "ERK" decal on the back of its helmet.
Tripp Chandler (2007)
During the 2007 season, a black "TEAM" sticker was placed approximately where the "ERK" decal had been located.
Shaun Chapas (2009)
For the second game of the 2009 season, Bulldog players wore stickers on their helmets honoring the Georgia-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team during their game against South Carolina.
2009 Georgia-Florida game
In a change in uniform, and a 41-17 loss -- both occurrences many Georgia fans would like to forget -- the Bulldogs wore an alternate outfit for their game against No. 1-ranked Florida in 2009. The new uni included a black helmet with a red facemask, and an oval "G" outlined in red.
Israel Troupe (2009)
Darryl Gamble (2009)
By the Auburn game in 2009, some players displayed a big black bone sticker at the bottom-right on the back of their helmets, which evidently acknowledged grade point averages of 3.0 to 4.0 (notice Troupe's "3.0"). Also against Auburn, the Bulldogs honored injured UGA baseball player Chance Veazey by wearing helmet decals of a baseball with the letters "CV."
Capping the season of seemingly endless helmet/decal changes and additions, the Bulldogs featured a black-boned "UGA VII" sticker beginning with the 2009 Kentucky game in memory of school mascot Uga VII, who died of heart failure on November 19th of that year.
Hutson Mason (2010)
For the final few games of the Bulldogs' 2010 regular season, players featured an "MSU 36 NB" decal on the back of their helmets. The sticker was in memory of Miss. State's Nick Bell, who passed away earlier that season from cancer. Bell's final game came against Georgia that same year.
Less than two years after the uniform snafu against Florida in 2009, Georgia again donned a one-game alternate uniform for its 2011 season opener. Facing Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the Bulldogs dressed in their Nike Pro Combat uniform, which included a silver helmet with a broad (and I mean broad) red centered stripe spilling over on a primarily black facemask.
Bruce Figgins (2011)
For the sixth game of the 2011 season against Tennessee, the Bulldogs wore a pink bow decal with “KDF” initials in tribute to Bruce Figgins' mother, who is battling breast cancer. Figgins continued wearing the sticker in games that followed.
Aaron Murray (2011)
Following the death of Larry Munson on November 20, 2011, the team honored the long-time "Voice of the Bulldogs" by wearing a decal depicting Munson for its final regular-season game against Georgia Tech and for the SEC Championship Game versus LSU.