University Of Utah

1957-65 Redskins
(Authentic Reproduction)





Coach Curtice described his Wing T passing themed offense with the statement that “We hit for long scores. We're not a ball-controlled team, but we can play ball control when we want to. And we can do it passing, not hitting for four yards in a cloud of dust like the split-T teams. We can do it on quick passes—sidelines and hooks.” Despite the public’s attempts to seemingly give his approach a different name each year, it was definitely a forerunner to the modern pass-oriented offenses of the 2000s. The Utes looked good on the field sporting new red Riddell RK 2 helmets with the same one-inch white center stripe and one-half-inch black flanking stripes, and the addition of three-inch white identification numerals on each side of the shell. Most players sported a white Adams two-bar mask. The program benefitted from the turmoil created by the sanctions leveled throughout the Pacific Coast Conference when Washington quarterback Lee Grosscup transferred to Salt Lake City [see: (part 1) and (part 2)]. The Utes were loaded but Grosscup put them and the entire conference onto the national stage in their widely followed 39-33 loss to Army on November 9th with the nation’s best passing offense.  Halfback Stuart Vaughan, running behind All Skyline center John Urses, was the team and nation’s leading receiver, also All Conference, and The Mountain States Player Of The Year. Grosscup made a number of All American selections and finished the season ranked third in passing and tenth in the Heisman voting. Sophomore back Larry Wilson was an immediate standout supplementing the work of Merrill Douglas, the All Skyline Conference fullback who was ranked nationally in a numerous rushing categories. He played for a number of NFL teams and later was a long time NFL referee. With a very talented group, the 6 - 4 record with out of conference losses proved to be a major disappointment. Worse, Coach Curtice left for the larger stage of Stanford where he wasn’t quite as successful as he had been at Utah. Perhaps the obvious problem for the entire conference was a paucity of quality high school football in the region, primarily due to a limited population. Former coach and analyst Herman Hickman stated in the 1956 edition of his annual pre-season summary for Sports Illustrated magazine: “In the sparsely settled and widely-scattered environs of the Skyline Conference, football is booming. Greatest handicap has been the scarcity of high school football teams in many areas, making it necessary to recruit players from other sections. Now however, more high schools are playing football, and the quality of young players entering college is improving every year.” Perhaps Stanford’s California location seemed more appealing to Coach Curtice but he had less success than he had earned at Utah. Despite the disappointment of Stanford Curtice did enjoy further coaching success, moving on to the University Of California at Santa Barbara where he was the AFCA College Division Coach Of The Year in 1965.
The new Utah coach in 1958 would be Ray Nagel, a former UCLA star who had the distinction of simultaneously serving as a player and scout for the Chicago Cardinals before becoming a part of Bud Wilkinson’s famed Oklahoma staff in 1953. He returned to his alma mater as backfield coach until being named as the youngest head coach in the nation at Utah for the 1958 season. Unfortunately super quarterback Lee Grosscup was hampered by a shoulder injury and his nod as an All Conference choice may have been more a reflection of his previous season’s accomplishment although both Jack Seul and Dick White were All Skyline ends. The final 4-7 mark was a reflection of a lack of consistent offense running primarily from a Single Wing, despite fine play by two-way halfback Larry Wilson who also averaged almost twenty-four yards per punt return and the rushing of Monk Bailey.  
Clyde Lee Grosscup quarterbacked his Santa Monica High School football team to two consecutive State Championships and just missed a third when his squad lost to Glendale Hoover High School. He joined the University Of Washington freshmen team with three of his high school teammates but all departed for Santa Monica JC after a player revolt that followed an NCAA sanctioned payoff scandal. He transferred to Utah and was a perfect fit for Coach Curtice’s passing offense where in 1957 he was an All American, tenth in the Heisman voting, and threw for 1398 yards which was tops in the country. He directed the squad to the Skyline Conference Championship while completing 68.6 percent of his passes.  He was credited with popularizing the “Utah Pass” or shovel pass that is still often utilized but was always quick to deny that he had “invented” it. Unfortunately his senior season was limited by a shoulder injury but he was still chosen for the Senior Bowl and was the first draft pick of the New York Giants. Injuries and an antagonistic relationship with head coach Allie Sherman limited his participation and his contract was sold to the second-year Minnesota Vikings for 1962. He was a final cut and played for the AFL N.Y. Titans where he started until felled by a knee injury. He played in Saskatchewan in ’63 and then with the Raiders in 1964. Grosscup completed his active career after two additional years with the Continental Football League Hartford Charter Oaks. His book, Fourth And One, released in 1963, was one of the first honest, behind-the scenes explorations of professional sports and after his playing career he entered the broadcast field, remaining popular for decades as an analyst for the AFL, University Of California, the USFL, and the Canadian Football League. 
Nagel still stressed a great deal of Single Wing offense for 1959 despite its waning frequency and in another nod to the past, he reinstituted the former “usual Utah uniform look” of a red Riddell RK shell with a white one-inch center stripe. Utah improved to 5-5 in ’59 with multi-talented Wilson playing at an All American level. He went on to a Pro Football Hall Of Fame career and is considered by many to be the greatest of the school’s players. Once again Monk Bailey was the leading rusher with the All Skyline pedigree to prove it and went on to play for Toronto in the CFL, the NFL Cardinals, and three seasons in the Atlantic Coast Football League as a defensive back.
As a four sport athlete at Rigby High School in Idaho, Larry Wilson played football for Coach Tom Roberts, a man he publicly thanked numerous times for being a positive influence and role model. Thus perhaps it wasn’t unexpected that Wilson would parlay his great athletic ability and toughness into a life as a professional athlete. As a two-way back at Utah Wilson became one of the greatest of its all-time athletic performers, less for his statistics than his legacy of toughness, enthusiasm, and team play. He was All Western Athletic Conference and Third Team All American in 1959 after rushing for 559 yards and catching twenty-one passes but he was always recognized as perhaps the most rugged player on the field. He was a seventh round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals who found him a bit wanting at offensive back and even cornerback as training camp progressed but he settled in at safety and proved the popular saying, “the rest is history.” Wilson’s history includes eight Pro Bowl selections, First Team All Pro selection six times and a second team honor in addition to that, membership to the NFL’s Sixties All Decade Team, the 75th Year All Time NFL Team, and the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Known well for popularizing the safety blitz due to his athletic ability, toughness, speed, and tackling abilities, he was a ball hawk in a running era with fifty-two career interceptions. If there was ever a doubt about his hard-nosed approach, it was dispelled when he not only played but intercepted a pass against the Steelers in 1965 with casts on his two broken hands! He served as a player and coach in his final NFL season and from 1973 through 2002 worked with the Cardinals in almost every front office position, even filling in as Interim Head Coach in 1979. Summarized as “the NFL player who coaxed more out of his abilities than any other,” he is a revered and iconic figure in his native Idaho and at the University Of Utah who set a standard that may not be equaled.  
Nagel entered the ’60 season confident of improvement and got it with his two recruiting classes contributing to the 7-3 record. The season finale 6-0 shutout over rival Utah State kept the Aggies from a perfect season as quarterback Terry Nofsinger ran and passed well, later earning a seven year NFL career with three teams. Linemen Thorton Ken Peterson, Tony Polychronis, and center-linebacker Ed Pine were all named to various All Conference teams. Leading rusher Stan Uyeshiro had a gaudy 8.8 yards per rush and later coached high school ball in Hawaii, while Petersen generated a year with the Minnesota Vikings.  
Losing three of his last four games and finishing at 6-4 due to inconsistent play in 1961 meant entering the Western Athletic Conference in ’62 might be something more than a challenge. All American center and linebacker Ed Pine did his part as did All Conference end Marv Fleming. Pine played linebacker for the Niners in 1962 through ’64 and completed his career in ’65 with Pittsburgh. The formal formation of the Western Athletic Conference on July 27, 1962 had the unexpected effect of placing Utah football in a more competitive situation. Their 4-5-1 record was again “low-lighted” by a late season collapse that seemed to plague Nagel’s teams and their one-victory-in-conference record left them in the basement. Quarterback Gary Hertzfeldt did his share tossing for 889 yards with receivers Jerry Overton and Fleming excelling. Fleming of course moved on to an outstanding pro career, spending seven years in Green Bay, five with the Dolphins and playing in five Super Bowls. He is a member of the Packers Hall Of Fame. JC transfer Dave Costa proved to be a rough and tumble All Conference tackle. Enhancement of academic acceptance requirements forced Coach Nagel to bring in more junior college prospects. One transfer from California’s Glendale JC, fullback Allen Jacobs was the team’s leading rusher with help from Ron Coleman. Alert fans noted that Coach Nagel had the equipment men reward players who snagged an interception with an award sticker affixed to the helmet. These were small white football shaped decals with the opponent's name or identifying symbol within the football shape. The ’63 contingent however would be led by steady Hertzfeldt at quarterback who despite entering the season while recovering from eye surgery, would finish as an All WAC performer with 949 passing and 260 rushing yards. Scrappy Ernest “Pokey” Allen would fill in at quarterback and play a tough DB all year. Junior receiver Roy Jefferson was also named to the All Conference squad, marking himself as a pro prospect. Defensive specialist Costa took his tough Yonkers, N.Y. trade school background to the pros for a productive twelve year career spent with five teams. Once again a late season 1-4 mark resulted in a disappointing 4-6 finish.


Nagel finally held the season together and instead of a late collapse, the Utes surged to seven consecutive victories including a 32-6 win over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl Game. The school’s first bowl game in twenty-six years, it was competed indoors at the Atlantic City, N.J. Convention Hall before a national television audience. Tackle Greg Kent painted each game’s score on his car to motivate the squad and an air of toughness had enveloped the team in part due to the work of line coach Bob Watson, a former UCLA teammate of Nagel. At the conclusion of the season, the team’s performance allowed Nagel to win The National College Coach Of The Year Award. The nation’s sixth ranked defense gave up a total of only sixty-two points while posting four shutouts with quarterback-defensive back Pokey Allen and defensive lineman Dario DeBenedetti standing out. Defensive back C.D. Lowrey posted six interceptions in one game, a long standing school record! Quarterback Richie Groth who threw for 785 yards proved his toughness constantly, was also a member of the Utah Ski Team. Allen Jacobs rushed for 752 yards while Ron Coleman finished with 750, Jacobs moving on to a year with the champion Packers and two with the Giants before entering the real estate business. Coleman distinguished himself as Vice President of the University Of Utah. Receiver John Pease spent most of his working life in the coaching profession in both the collegiate and pro ranks.  Pokey Allen, while a standout two-way performer, won national acclaim as a collegiate coach who among other accomplishments, is credited with building the foundation of Boise State’s football program as it first entered the national scene. The entire 1964 University Of Utah football team as well as Consensus All American receiver Roy Jefferson, was inducted to the University’s Athletic Hall Of Fame. 
Of all of the many stars of Utah’s ’64 team, the brightest was clearly 1964 Consensus All American receiver and place kicker Roy Jefferson. Following his cousin and former Ute player Marv Fleming to Utah from Compton, California, Roy was an immediate standout. He was an All WAC performer his junior season and followed that with an outstanding 1964 where he was The WAC Player Of The Year. A second round draft choice of the moribund Pittsburgh Steelers, he was a weapon for them, posting consecutive 1000 yard receiving seasons in 1968 and ’69 when the feat was infrequently accomplished. He was a three-time Pro Bowl performer, first team All NFL in 1969 and earned 2nd team designations in both ’68 and later with Washington in ’71. His position as team union representative put him at odds with newly hired Steelers coach Chuck Noll and in August 1970 he was traded to the Colts where he helped lead the team to a Super Bowl Championship. He played with the Redskins from 1971 through ’76 and retired to later appear in movies, own restaurants, and enter the real estate business.     
Certainly fans were hoping that Utah had turned a corner and established itself as a territorial power after their great 1964 season but ’65 saw them return to their previous pattern of starting well and sluggishly finishing their seasons. Nagel’s “standard” collapse came with losing five of the final six games of the season and a disappointing 3-7 finish. Rich Groth threw for 967 yards, played in the Atlantic Coast Football League for two seasons, and avoided amputation of one of his lower limbs following a horrific skiing accident due to his toughness and consistent efforts at rehabilitation. Tackle John Stipech, drafted as a “future” by the Redskins and center Pat McKissick were named to the WAC team, the latter another tough guy who worked in the mines as a high school student before entering the University. The defense was led by All Conference tackle Mike Butera. Many were caught off-guard when Coach Nagel resigned on December 11th to take over the Iowa program. However, other than his great ’64 season, his teams had not fared well within the relatively new Western Athletic Conference, polishing his record primarily while in Skyline Conference play and noting three losing seasons of his last four. At Iowa he worked hard to fix a sagging program but was caught up in the racial turmoil of the times that affected a number of collegiate programs and left after the ’70 season. He entered administration and was successful as the AD at both Washington State and Hawaii.

If interested in any of these Utah helmets please click on the photos below.