Today is a great day to honor the memory of a legendary Wolverine named George Jewett who went to rest in peace on this day in 1908. Sadly, Jewett was only thirty-eight years old when he died. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, George Henry Jewett II was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in April 1870. He was the son of a successful blacksmith, but he had bigger dreams. George Jewett attended Ann Arbor High School and was the valedictorian of his graduating class in 1889. He was also an outstanding athlete who starred in football and baseball.
George Jewett’s name first appeared on a Michigan Football Roster in 1890. He was listed as a halfback and member of the varsity. George actually played fullback and halfback during the season. Jewett also excelled on defense and did some place-kicking for the Wolverines. George Jewett’s outstanding play in 1890 helped Michigan post a final record of 4 wins and 1 loss.
Jewett did not enroll at Michigan for the 1891-1892 school year. So, George did not play on the 1891 Michigan Football team, but they probably could have used him. The 1891 team was the first Michigan team with a paid coach named Frank Crawford. Unfortunately, things did not work out too well for Mr. Crawford because he was gone after posting a record of 4 wins and 5 losses!
The talented George Jewett came back to play in 1892 to play for a new coach named Frank Barbour. Jewett picked up right where he left off in 1890. He started every game at one of the halfback positions and helped Michigan post a final record of 7 wins and 5 losses.
George Jewett played some outstanding football for Michigan and he also was part of some interesting Michigan football “firsts.”
- George Jewett was the first African-American player to wear the Michigan Football uniform in 1890. (Note-He was also the first African-American football player at Northwestern in 1893.)
- Jewett played in the first game ever against Purdue on November 1, 1890. (A 34-6 Michigan victory).
- George Jewett played on the first team that Frank Barbour coached at Michigan in 1892.
- Jewett played a big role on the first Michigan team to score 74-points against the Michigan Athletic Association on October 8, 1892. (Michigan won 74-0).
- George Jewett played in the first games ever against the following teams in 1892: Chicago, DePauw, Michigan Athletic Association, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.
- George Jewett was the first Michigan Football player to kick nine consecutive goals after touchdown against Albion on November 5, 1892.
- Jewett played on the first Wolverine Football team to win 7 games in 1892.
- George Jewett played on the first Michigan Football team to score over 200 points in a single season. (Note – The record of 298 stood until a guy named Yost came along in 1901.)
Please take a moment to remember Dr. George Jewett. I like to call him the “Jackie Robinson of Michigan Football.” He was a true “Pigskin Pioneer” who led the way to integrated football “back in the day.” I am sure that he faced countless incidents of disrespect and racial bias. However, he persevered and laid the foundation for other African-American men to eventually follow in his footsteps. Please take a moment to remember George Jewett. We need to appreciate his significant contributions to the history of Michigan Football. May George Jewett continue to rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
For more information on Dr. George Jewett check out the notes in the articles linked below.