During the second half of the 1940’s, the University of Georgia would only have one player named to the All-American after having 4 players named during the first part of the decade. That player, Bill Hartman, is often remembered as one of the most underrated players in Southern college football history. Hartman was born in Thomaston and played football as a youth in nearby by Madison. Hartman became a fixture for the Georgia football team beginning in 1935 for Harry Mehre.
Hartman was a versatile player for Georgia during his three years on varsity, playing fullback, linebackers, and punter for the Dawgs. During his senior season in 1937, he even filled in at quarterback against Tulane when injuries forced the Georgia starter out of the game. The Georgia offense struggled that day, but found a way to win 7-6 thanks in large part to a 44 yard punt by Hartman in the first quarter. The kick went out of bounds at the 2, forcing Tulane to start deep in its own territory and decided to punt on first down (a common practice at the time). Georgia’s Vassa Cate returned the punt for a touchdown, Georgia’s only score, and the Dawgs won. Here is a look at Hartman’s career at Georgia:
Later in the season, the Bulldogs were able to tie a heavily favored Georgia Tech team 6-6, after Hartman returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Following the season, Hartman was named an All-American at the fullback position. He played two seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and returned to Georgia as an assistance coach in 1939. He coached the secondary for Wally Butts until 1956. In 1974, Hartman returned to the Georgia coaching staff as the kicking coach for Vince Dooley. He was the first kicking coach in Georgia history and it had an immediate impact on the position. Georgia has enjoyed one of the best kicking traditions in the country, with names including Kevin Butler, Rex Robinson, John Kasay, Billy Bennett, and now Blair Walsh. Hartman was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984, and the UGA Circle of Honor in 1999.
Here’s another funny story about how Bill Hartman nearly fell on Uga: