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Early College Football

The origins of college football in the United States date to the late 19th century. Influenced by European sports such soccer and rugby, American football gradually adopted rules which shaped the sport into the modern version played today. The first college football teams emerged in the northeastern United States. Gradually, the game spread west and south. This photographic exhibit highlights some of the earliest teams in the state of Florida, the origins of in-state rivalries, and the development of big time college football in the Sunshine State. Organized college football in Florida also dates to the late 19th century. In the late 1800s, schools like Stetson in Deland, the Florida Agricultural College (FAC) in Lake City, and the West Florida Seminary in Tallahassee, fielded club teams that competed in intra-college contests on a limited basis. The first intercollegiate college football game in Florida was played on November 22, 1901, and pitted Stetson against FAC.

Stetson University player, holding faceguard, early 1900s, Deland, Florida

Stetson University player, holding faceguard: Deland, Florida (early 1900s)

Image Number: N046115

Stetson University's football team: Deland, Florida (ca. 1890s)

Stetson University's football team: Deland, Florida (ca. 1890s)

Image Number: PR13037

General Note: The coach of Stetson University's early football team was C. B. Rosa (middle rear, wearing hat).

Stetson University team portrait: Deland, Florida (between 1898 and 1910)

Stetson University team portrait: Deland, Florida (between 1898 and 1910)

Image Number: N044171

West Florida Seminary team portrait, 1899, Tallahassee, Florida

West Florida Seminary team portrait: Tallahassee, Florida (1899)

Image Number: N044028

Florida State College team portrait: Tallahassee, Florida (between 1901 and 1905)

Florida State College team portrait: Tallahassee, Florida (between 1901 and 1905)

Image Number: RC02435

General Note: Back row, far right: W.S. "Buddy" McLin. Front row, far right: Guyte McCord.

Florida Agricultural College team portrait: Lake City, Florida (1902)

Florida Agricultural College team portrait: Lake City, Florida (1902)

Image Number: RC06300

East Florida Seminary team portrait: Gainesville, Florida (1902)

East Florida Seminary team portrait: Gainesville, Florida (1902)

Image Number: N044027

Florida State College team portrait: Tallahassee, Florida (1904)

Florida State College team portrait: Tallahassee, Florida (1902)

Image Number: RC01140

General Note:There are 20 names but 16 persons in the photo. Order is uncertain. W.W. Hughes, coach; F.B. Winthrop, mgr.; A.B. Clark, capt.; C.W. Peters; G.P. McCord; E.P. Watson; L.M. Murray; W.H. Provence; William McLendon Mullen (back 4th from left); W.W. Dickey; J.T. Howard; A.B. Clark; ? Williams; and F.W. Buchholz. Substitutes: I.J. Belcher, R.F. Bradford, Jr., T.H. Hancock, W.S. McLin, F.F. Rawls, J.H. Sheats, and William Van Brunt. Schedule: FSC vs Bainbridge 5-0 FSC vs FAC 6-0 FSC vs FAC 0-6.

Florida State College team portrait, 1903, Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State College team portrait: Tallahassee, Florida (1903)

Image Number: RC01134

Stetson University's football team, 1907, Deland, Florida

Stetson University's football team: Deland, Florida (1907)

Image Number: PR13064

General Note:1. Speck Campbell; 3. Carl Farriss; 5. Ed Mickle; 6. Fred Botts; 7. Carney Wilder; 8. Coach Carlton Robinson; 10. Harry Garwood; 13. J. G. Black.

Championship football team of 1910: Gainesville, Florida (1910)

Championship football team of 1910: Gainesville, Florida (1910)

Image Number: PR13085

General Note: Standing in the rear at the left is Dr. A.A. Murphree.

Columbia College team portrait: Lake City, Florida (ca. 1910s)

Columbia College team portrait: Lake City, Florida (ca. 1910s)

Image Number: N033757

Columbia College football team: Lake City, Florida (ca. 1910s)

Columbia College football team: Lake City, Florida (ca. 1910s)

Image Number: N033756

General Note: In photograph are Fleming Appleyard and William Towns Appleyard.

Florida Southern team portrait, 1912, Lakeland, Florida

Florida Southern team portrait: Sutherland, Florida (1912)

Image Number: N030701

General Note: The college was located in Pinellas County at Sutherland, now Palm Harbor.

Columbia College team portrait, 1914, Lake City, Florida

Columbia College team portrait: Lake City, Florida (1914)

Image Number: RC06323

Group portrait of the University of Florida football team: Gainesville, Florida (1915 or 1916)

Group portrait of the University of Florida football team: Gainesville, Florida (1915 or 1916)

Image Number: PR24570

Accompanying Note: This is the "drove of gators."

Postcard showing group portrait of the University of Florida football team: Gainesville, Florida (1915 or 1916)

Postcard showing group portrait of the University of Florida football team: Gainesville, Florida (1915 or 1916)

Image Number: PR24572

Singing of the national anthem at a University of Miami football game: Miami, Florida (ca. late 1920s)

Singing of the national anthem at a University of Miami football game: Miami, Florida (ca. late 1920s)

Image Number: PHF004

General Note: University of Miami vs. an unidentified team.

F.S.U. football squad: Tallahassee, Florida (1947)

F.S.U. football squad: Tallahassee, Florida (1947)

Image Number: PR12752

General Note: Front (L-R): David Middlebrooks, RT; Jack Tully, RG; Buddy Bryant, C; Jim Quigley, LG; Leonard Gilbert, LT; Jack MacMillan, QB (Kneeling).