Utah Football Releases Third Hand-Painted Helmet

Nov 8, 2018, 6:26 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2018, 6:41 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah has released images of a new hand-painted helmet design that the football team will wear during their game against the Oregon Ducks at Rice Eccles Stadium.

The helmet will feature a red-tailed hawk motif, with the wings of the hawk spread out across both sides. Although the university’s teams have been referred to by the Ute nickname, the school’s mascot, “Swoop,” is a red-tailed hawk.

Wearing the helmets against Oregon seemed somewhat appropriate, considering the Ducks’ history of sharp and unusual uniform choices.

The game marks the third time the Utes feature a hand-painted design. In celebration of the new helmets, KSL Sports takes a look back at the history of Utah’s hand-painted designs.

2016’s Blackout Game

The Utes’ black helmet in 2016 was a masterpiece, with granite-like splatters and a unique serial number for each. The drum and feather logo looked more like a biker’s jacket than a college football helmet. It had a tough, custom feel like the Harley Davidson Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham drives.

No two helmets were alike, each one as unique as the players that donned them.

Ranked No. 24 going into the game, Utah needed a fourth quarter rally and two touchdowns to take down the USC Trojans 31-27 in Salt Lake City.

Quarterback Troy Williams, who grew up 15 miles from the USC campus, shined against the team that failed to recruit him. He passed for 270 yards, connecting on 21 of 34 attempts, connecting on two touchdowns. He also  and ran in another score.

2017’s ‘Throwin’ Up The U’

In November 2017, the Utes took on rival Colorado and unveiled their second hand-painted design, known as the “Throwin’ up the U” helmets. They featured two gloved hands on the back of the helmet, making the “U” sign.

The helmets were not nearly as well-received as the previous year. They had a mixed reaction from fans and former players.

Speaking of the “U” hand signal, former Ute and current free safety for the Baltimore Ravens Eric Weddle laid claim to the nickname, although The University of Miami often gets the credit.

During player TV introductions against New England when he played for the Chargers, Weddle introduced himself as, “Eric Weddle (from) the University of Utah, the real U.”

The U hand sign deserves to be flashed at Rice Eccles Stadium over Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Hurricanes.

The idea of the U hand sign on the helmet was solid, but the hand-drawn helmet came off as cartoonish. The stripes overlay on the drawing and corresponding uniform was cluttered and confusing. (More on the confusing nature of the Ute striped another time.)

Despite the apparent miss in helmet design, Utah was able to beat Colorado 34-13 on a career night for Zack Moss. The running back had a career high 196 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

The win also kept the Utes from a losing season, giving them their sixth win of the year and bowl eligibility. They went on to play West Virginia of the SEC in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, beating the Mountaineers easily with a 30-14 victory.

2018’s Red-Tailed Hawk

The 2018 hand-painted headwear with Utah’s indigenous red-tailed hawk makes the case for the state bird you never knew you wanted. The hawk ids the most commonly-spotted bird of prey in the state, and the inspiration for Swoop.

Utah got the idea and the execution of the helmet right. The wings are realistic wings – far from the ridiculous scissor-like and modern iteration of wings made popular by the Oregon Ducks.

The red-tailed hawk version spreads across a slick, black to red gradient helmet.

The Utes look to be powerful birds of prey Saturday against the Ducks. The game kicks off at 3;30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

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