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June 24, 2013

The Name Game

Morocco was a two-sport star at 
UGA with a unique name perhaps 
unequaled by any other Bulldog  
You know it's the college football offseason when...
I was thumbing through my recently arrived Phil Steele College Football Preview, checking out Georgia's competition for the upcoming season, when I noticed a "Pig" is slated to start at one of Tennessee's wide receiver positions.
Sophomore Alton "Pig" Howard played some for the Vols as a freshman a year ago, including having a couple of touches at Georgia.  However, I must have missed the Pig's performance against the Bulldogs.  Surely, what has to be one of the sport's most unusual nicknames, which was given to Howard by his family when he was little because he was "fat and fast," would have caught my attention back in late September.  Nevertheless, "Pig" recently made me ponder about Georgia's Puss, Pulpwood, and the other great nicknames in the history of Bulldogs' football.
There have been a number of well-thought-out UGA football all-time "name" teams posted over the last several years (which seem to always be highlighted by Wycliffe Lovelace of the mid to late 1980s).  However, I've made an attempt to post Georgia football's all-time top nicknames, like Tennessee's Pig, which essentially were or became more so the players' first names.
The following top-10 listing was compiled from off the top of my head, so I probably omitted a few other worthy nicknames.  Please comment if you can think of any others I missed.   

1. (ZIPPY) Anthony Morocco: The Georgia halfback from 1949 to 1951 with the intriguing name would be recognized as the state's first collegiate basketball All-American and remains the only Bulldog chosen in both the NFL and NBA drafts.  The name "Zippy Morocco" was so locally acclaimed, it became the title of a song in the early 2000s by the late and distinguished folk rock singer, Vic Chesnutt.  In 2005, a book on UGA football declared Zippy got his name from his "stop and go style" on a basketball court.  Curiously, however, he recently told me for my upcoming book that he was named "Zippy" while he was a youngster, hustling to sell newspapers in Youngstown, Ohio.  "I ran around and then would sometimes jump up and hit parking signs, zipping from one place to another," he informed me.   

2. (PUSS) Hugh Whelchel: A nickname of "Puss" certainly must have signified something different during the 1920s as it does today because ineffectual and timid Whelchel was not.  From 1919 to 1922, the standout guard blocked 19 career kicks, including two which were returned for touchdowns in Georgia's celebrated victory over Alabama in 1920.  Also known as the "Dashing Douglas Blonde," the Douglas native was a two-time All-Southern selection, captain of Georgia's 1922 team, and far from what we regard today as a "puss."  Against Vanderbilt as a senior, Whelchel played much of a 12-0 defeat so "battered into semi-consciousness" that he was not aware his Bulldogs actually lost the game until well after the contest had finished.   

3. (PULPWOOD) Andre Smith: At 12 years old, Smith was asked by a recreation department coach, Walter Huckaby, how was it he could be so strong to hit towering home runs into the tops of some trees behind an outfield fence at Wheeler Park in Douglas.  Smith, who helped his father log pulpwood trees, responded with one word -- Pulpwood.  "Mr. Huckaby started calling me that, and the nickname stuck," Pulpwood informed me for my recent book.  Even Smith's two brothers' nicknames, Chainsaw and Sawdust, were derived from his logging-related nickname.  Although Pulpwood's UGA varsity career consisted of just 13 games, his sophomore campaign of 1984 (team-high 655 rushing yards, 6.0 yards per carry, and 12 receptions) remains arguably the greatest single season ever by a Bulldog who solely played the fullback position.

4. (WAR EAGLE) Harold Ketron: Lineman "War Eagle" Ketron of the early 1900s was one of the school's first star athletes.  The rugged and hard-nosed Ketron earned the nickname as a youngster as the phrase was often his battle cry with his brothers heard throughout the valleys of Habersham County.  Ketron lettered from 1901 to 1903, captaining the ’03 squad, before returning to UGA to play again in 1906 after a two-season hiatus to join his younger brother on the team -- a fellow lineman also with a unique name, Grover Cleveland Ketron.  War Eagle, who was said to spit tobacco juice on occasion in his opponent’s eye before making a tackle, would become a Georgia assistant coach and later was primarily responsible for enticing and luring one of the greatest Bulldogs of them all from the hills of Pennsylvania to Athens -- Charley Trippi.

An excellent defender against both the pass and
run, Happy sacks Kentucky's QB for a safety in '66
5. (HAPPY) Robert Dicks: Although the legend it is linked to is not completely accurate, the complete name Happy Dicks has to be one of the most fascinating and amusing in all of college football.  Besides legendary Bill Stanfill, Happy was the only other sophomore to start at least four games for Georgia's 1966 SEC championship defense.  That season, the linebacker tallied a team second-best four interceptions.  In 1968, Happy ended his playing days as a Bulldog with a total of seven career interceptions, as an integral part of a second conference title, and as a second-team All-SEC member.  Nicknamed ''Happy'' because he almost always had a smile on his face as a boy, Dicks would become a prominent and award-winning neurologist.

6. (BUM) Ashel Day: Like teammate "Puss" Whelchel, Day's nickname was nearly an injustice to the Bulldog's play on the gridiron.  The outstanding lineman on both offense and defense was certainly no bum, earning all-conference honors in 1920 and 1921.  Bum, who is also likely UGA's all-time transfer, first enrolled at Georgia Tech (since Georgia did not field a football team during World War I), where he was an All-American in 1918 and would be inducted into Tech's Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

7. (CATFISH) Vernon Smith: Smith received his hard-earned nickname a year before entering UGA, grabbing a catfish after a classmate jokingly dared him to bite its head off.  Smith then jerked its whiskers a couple times, and with one snap, bit the fish's head clear off, including the gills.  Catfish, an end from 1929 to 1931, is still considered one of the best players in school history, becoming the second Bulldog to earn consensus All-American honors, third to be a three-time all-conference selection, and was the fourth UGA player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. 

8. The 1927 team:
Members of Georgia's "Dream and Wonder" championship team of '27 included Ivy "Chick" Shiver, Gene "Jug Head" Smith, and Robert "Bear" Morris.  Chick and Jug Head were recognized as first-team All-Southern, while Chick was also a first-team All-American.  All three players were seniors, prominent starters, and known more so by their nicknames than their first names as members of a team named national champions by both the Boand and Poling polls.  
Besides "Buzy," Rosenberg was also known
as "Super Frog"... just ask Coach Dooley.
9. (BUZY) Leman Rosenberg: In his first two seasons on Georgia's varsity (1970-1971), all Buzy "Don't Call Me Leman" Rosenberg tallied was eight interceptions from his right cornerback position and four punt returns for touchdowns, while being named first-team All-SEC for both campaigns.  Besides the great Scott Woerner, Buzy is the only other Bulldog to total 900+ yards on punt returns and 10+ interceptions for a career.  His 40.4 punt return average against Oregon State in 1971 (5 returns for 202 yards) remains one of the best single-game punt return averages in NCAA history, trailing leader Golden Richards of BYU (5 for 219 vs. North Texas in 1971) by less than 3.5 yards. 

10. (CHAMP and BOSS) Roland and Rodney Bailey: Separated by approximately 16 months, cornerback Champ and linebacker Boss, the two youngest of a trio of brothers who played for the Bulldogs,  are each considered one of the best at their respective positions in UGA history.  Roland was nicknamed "Champ" when he was two years old because he was an energetic child; Rodney was called "Boss" because it was the nickname of his grandfather's favorite uncle.   Besides Matt and Jon Stinchcomb, the Baileys are the only other Bulldog brother duo to both be named first-team All-American at Georgia.  Before Jarvis Jones in 2012, Champ had been the last Bulldog to finish in the top 10 of a Heisman Trophy voting (7th in 1998).
Honorable Mention- (OLD TUB) Lewis Green: Old Tub, a blind African-American man regarded as a "landmark" of Athens during the late 1800s, is worthy of honorable mention because he was once considered the mascot of the University and nearly represented Georgia in 1892, instead of the acclaimed goat, for the school's second football game against Auburn.  Legend had it that Green acquired the nickname when protesting his love for a "dusky maiden named Jane."  However, instead of pouring her love onto Green, Jane poured a kettle of hot water onto his head.  In desperation, Green jumped head first into a nearby tub of cold water, whereupon a young boy, Bill Christy, spotting only two large feet protruding from the tub as volumes of steam filled the air, yelled, "Hello, Uncle Tub, whose been setting you on fire?"  UGA students started using the nickname "Tub," and "Old" was later added as Green started to get up there in age.  In 1901, Old Tub passed away at 88 years old.  You can read more on Old Tub at the UGA Nickname & Mascot History page at my website.


Anonymous said...

jiggy smaha not make the list?

Patrick Garbin said...

Thanks for reading and your comment. Actually, I had Smaha on my original list, thinking there was no way his first name was actually "Jiggy." However, according to a media guide from when he played, his full name is "Jiggy Ephram Smaha."

Anonymous said...

I have always like Eddie "Meat Cleaver" Weaver myself... we could use a couple of meat cleavers this year !

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