Dean Volkman  1967
(game worn)



This 1967 University Of Illinois helmet is a reminder of both good and bad days on the Fighting Illini football field. The 4-6 season of '67 was bracketed between a Rose Bowl championship team in 1963 and eight consecutive losing seasons that began in 1966. That 1963 team ripped through the Big Ten and then the Rose Bowl Washington Huskies to the tune of an 8-1-1 record. With stars like Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski, many young athletes wanted to join Pete Elliot's squad in Champaign-Urbana and Dean Volkman was one of them. As an All State QB out of Evansville (IN) North H.S. Dean starred for Coach Morris Riley and as captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams was rated as one of the state's all time prep standouts. The 1965 Illini eleven went 6-4 with senior Fred Custardo at the controls and explosive soph Cyril Pinder pounding the ball on the ground. Don Hansen had taken over MLB for the departed Butkus and the future looked bright. Current Illinois AD Ron Guenther was a junior on the team. Dean lettered having logged 69 minutes on the field and was the holder on PAT's and field goals. Pennsylvania prep passing whiz Bob Naponic would be the soph starter in '66 with #15 Dean behind him, playing to the tune of 28 completions in 58 attempts. The orange and blue fell to 4-6 but the material was there for a great send off for Volkman and his fellow seniors in '67. Unfortunately, a "slush fund scandal" brought disciplinary action against the program resulting in the expulsion of Pinder and resignation of Head Coach Elliot. Taking the reigns late as spring ball began in '67, Jim Valek made few changes to the team and with Naponic, backed up by soph Bob Bess and Volkman at QB, throwing to track star John Wright, the shaken team limped to another 4-6 record. Volkman teamed with FB Rich Johnson and speedy Dave Jackson to contribute their best effort but the scandal and coaching upheaval was the start of a sad run of losing seasons that included 1-9 and 0-10 finishes until Bob Blackman was brought in from the Ivy League to finally post a winning record. When Naponic was knocked unconscious in the opener against Florida and then suffered a knee injury against Indiana in the third game, Dean started six games and proved that he could "travel well" engineering wins over Ohio State (17-13) in Columbus, Northwestern (27-21) in Evanston, and Iowa (21-19) in Iowa City. He ran well and finished the '67 season as the team's leading passer with over 1000 yards in completions. 

Dean Volkman's wonderful orange Riddell TK5 shell with 6 point suspension system is adorned with the blue and white striping that made this Illinois helmet a period piece that is immediately recognized by Big Ten fans. The numbers, as thought, were black and not blue for this teams era. Six point suspension systems offered limited protection so Volkman had installed a concussion padding kit inside his helmet.  Photos of the '67 team note that players at almost all positions wore the double bar mask with the Schutt U-Bar, except for QB Volkman. When he finally installed the "nose hook" it was the Riddell model RI100.  Volkman's beat up helmet and faded mask are representative of a great period in Big Ten history.  Special thanks to David!



If interested in any of these UI helmets please click on the photos below.