The most recognizable part of a football uniform is the helmet, which sets the team apart from the rest with its unique layout. While this wasn’t always the case, the arrangements that adorn a team’s headgear have become more elaborate and elaborate over the years, while also undergoing design changes to improve their primary purpose: protecting the player’s noggin.
One of the nation’s most iconic helmets is worn by the Florida soccer team, whose “Gators” logo has been emblazoned on an orange field for four decades. But in the seasons leading up to the introduction of the modern design, UF went through many changes before reaching perfection.
Below we have listed all of the previous helmet designs worn by University of Florida football players over the centuries from pre-1946, from earliest to most recent – including modern novelty designs. Scroll down and take a stroll through the history of Orange and Blue.
Before 1946: leather helmets
Chuck Hunsinger, 1940s. (Courtesy: University of Florida SID)
The original leather helmet didn’t offer much variety in terms of design, and even less in terms of safety, as the soft helmets did little to protect against direct impacts, while the lack of a face mask has its own obvious risks.
1946-55: Hard hats without a face mask
“We Beat Georgia!” 1950. (Courtesy: University of Florida SID)
From the mid ’40s to the mid ’50s, soccer players were upgraded by switching to hard helmets. Still no face masks, but you can see the emergence of team-based helmet designs looming.
1956-62: White helmets with stripes and numbers
Louisiana State star Billy Cannon (20) is lifted into the air from the middle of the UF line. Florida players in tackle, end Jimmy Givens (87), Danny Royal (77) tackle, Bob Wehking (58) center, front Doug Partin (32) Florida back. (AP photo)
This era represents the true beginning of modern helmet design: hard shell, facemask (albeit a single bar), and unique team-based markings – including individual player numbers.
1962: Stars and Bars Helm (vs. Penn State – Gator Bowl)
Larry Dupree (35) University of Florida back drives for an eight-yard gain against Penn State in the first quarter of the Gator Bowl game December 29, 1962 in Jacksonville. (AP photo)
There is a very interesting story behind this once-worn helmet design. Back in 1962, the Penn State Nittany Lions, then an independent team with a 9-1 record, didn’t want to play Florida (9-4) in the Gator Bowl. In an effort to shake his opponent, UF flaunted the Confederate battle flag on his helmets and went 17-7 against the angered PSU. Also note that the face mask in this design includes a second bar.
1963: Blue helmet with stripes and numbers
Florida 10, Alabama 6, October 12, 1963. This was the Crimson Tide’s first loss at their home turf since 1957 and most points since 1959 against an Alabama team. (Courtesy: University of Florida SID)
Florida mixed things up a bit with their design this season, opting for a dark blue with three stripes on the top of the helmet – the outer two white with the inner stripe orange. Player numbers remained on the sides.
1964-65: Blue helmet with stripes and F logo in a circle
Florida coach Ray Graves has a serious conversation with several members of his soccer team in New Orleans, December 30, 1965. The players are halfback Richard Trapp (44), quarterback Kay Stephenson (15), end Paul Ewaldsen (85) and fullback Wayne Barfield (48). (AP Photo/Horace Cort)
Florida mixed things up a bit again for the next two seasons, switching to an F with a circle emblem while sporting just a single orange stripe across the blue helmet.
1966-67: White helmet with stripes and F logo
Quarterback Steve Spurrier turns the corner against Georgia Tech, 1967 (courtesy University of Florida SID)
This is the helmet design that was eventually popularized by Steve Spurrier’s 1966 Heisman Trophy campaign. While its use continued into the following year, the team saw several changes throughout the season.
In the first two games, the helmet sported just a single solid stripe across the top center while retaining the F logo. However, they reverted to the pure 1966 design for the four games that followed, before ending the year with the old design, with player numbers replacing the F logo.
1968-78: Helmet with stripes and UF logo
Florida defensive end Jack Youngblood (74) leans back over a block from Tennessee Don McLeary (36) to put his hand in the face of Vols quarterback Bobby Scott at Neyland Stadium October 24, 1970. (Joe Rudis/The Tennessean)
The next helmet design, introduced by Ray Graves and worn for the decade that followed, adorned the heads of several Gator greats, including NFL Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood. It featured an orange helmet with an interlocking UF logo on the side with two outer blue stripes and an inner white stripe extending across the top of the head. Also note that the design of the face masks is becoming more modern.
1979-Present: Classic Orange Gators script helmet
With the well-known font “Gators” introduced by Charlie Pell, we have officially entered the modern era of Florida helmets. This iconic look has carried the program through the careers of Gator greats like Emmitt Smith, Lomas Brown, Wilbur Marshall, Trace Armstrong, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow. There are few designs that are as recognizable as this one.
2006: White Helmet with Block F (vs. Alabama – Game 5)
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Thus begins the era of novel helmet designs, beginning with those worn in Game 5 of the 2006 season against the Alabama Crimson Tide. It features a white helmet with two thin outer blue lines and a thick inner orange line running across the top of the head along with a plain blue block F on the sides.
2009, 2015-17: White helmet with italic F
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
In later years, Florida launched a design similar to the 2006 helmet but with a blue italic F on the side with an orange border. Tim Tebow’s team were the first to wear it and last used it in 2017.
2010: Orange Gators Script Helmet without stripes (vs. Georgia – Game 10)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Another unique design is this one worn in Game 10 of the 2010 season against the Georgia Bulldogs. The helmet lacks the usual stripes across the head and the orange field features a scaly Gator skin texture. This design would later be a precursor to a much more overtly reptilian look.
2015-20: Helmet with white Gators lettering
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
This design became Florida’s de facto alternative helmet in the second half of the 2010s, essentially representing the classic look on a white field. It was last seen in Game 7 of the 2020 season against the Vanderbilt Commodores, where the overhead stripes were slightly altered.
2017: Reptilian Helmets (vs. Texas A&M – Game 6)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Another once-worn design – this time against the Texas A&M Aggies – the reptilian uniforms represented Peak Gators chintz. The helmets lacked the textured skin look of the 2010 design and instead look more like military-issued gear with their solid green camouflage color, but they still tied the varsity well.
2018-present: Classic helmet from the Jordan brand
Chuck Cook USA TODAY Sports
This is essentially the same as the classic look, although some minor changes were made to both the look and the structural design when Florida signed on to the Jordan brand. This represents the true modern style currently used by the team.
2019: White Helmet with F Circled (vs. Auburn – Game 6)
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
This is another once-worn design that faced the Auburn Tigers in Game 6 of the 2019 season. In a way reminiscent of 1960s style, the helmet features a circled Block F on a white field and a single orange stripe running across the head.
2020: Blue Circled F Helmet (vs. Missouri – Game 4)
Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
This one-off design is essentially the same as the 2019 Auburn design, except the helmet is blue and there are three stripes across the head. It was worn in Game 4 of the 2020 season against the Missouri Tigers.
2020: Blue Gators Script Helm (vs. Tennessee – Game 9)
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Florida wore this design – another modification of the classic Gators scripted look – only once against the Tennessee Volunteers for Game 9 of the 2020 season. The blue field with the orange “Gators” logo is said to be a photo negative of the original design.
2021: White American Flag Gators Script Helm (vs. USF – Game 2)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Gators got patriotic with this look against the South Florida Bulls in Game 2 of the 2021 season. Similar to the other “Gators” wordmarks, this one features a white field with an American flag pattern on the logo, along with orange, blue, and white stripes across it.
2021: Orange helmet with classic UF logo (vs. Vanderbilt – Game 6)
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Florida threw the clock back to the 1970s with their interlocking logo on the orange helmet design against Vanderbilt for Game 6 of the 2021 season. Although it bears a striking resemblance to Jack Youngblood’s, it lacks the overhead stripe that the older one had.
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