Although the college football program has only been in existence since 2008, the Georgia State Panthers’ mascot history goes well beyond then. Pounce on this piece to discover the origins of the Panthers mascot and a deep(ish) dive into the nickname history of the Georgia State program.
Who (or What) Is the Georgia State Panthers Mascot?
“Pounce” is the official Panthers mascot. He was created in 1993 to support the Georgia State basketball team and became the de facto mascot for the university’s football team. In fact, it was the creation of the football program that motivated Georgia State to update the Panthers mascot with an improved design.
Described by the school as being “one of the most recognizable and beloved mascots in the Atlanta area,” Pounce is a costumed personification of a panther, although we’re not sure we’ve seen too many wild animals come in the distinctive shade of blue fur taken from the color of the program’s sports uniforms.
The 6’0″ tall mascot boasts a three-foot long tail and a ferocious white fanged face with foreboding black eyebrows. Despite being aggressive in features, Pounce actually holds a kids club for young Panthers fans aged 10 and under. In addition to free admission to home games, members have a chance to be the coin toss kid at Georgia State games.
While describing him as ferocious, Pounce is somewhat less terrifying now than the original 1993 creation that featured a nightmarish combination of yellow eyes, a red nose, and yellow claws.
Pounce hasn’t always been the Panthers mascot, however. The original mascot for the Georgia State basketball team was known as “Claws the Panther” — another blue costumed beast who first appeared in the early 1980s.
Claws was replaced as the Panthers mascot in 1989 by Urbie, who was a crimson-colored costumed mascot. Urbie’s distinct change of pigment led to the program being referred to as the Georgia State Crimson Panthers for a short while, but that ceased after just a short four-year reign for Urbie.
In addition to the costumed Panthers mascot, Georgia State boasts a life-size bronze statue that stands proudly outside the university. It has stood there since being gifted to the university in 2004. The statue is a symbol of good luck for students and has become part of the university traditions — resulting in a discolored nose.
According to an article on the Georgia State website, “freshman are recommended to touch the panther’s nose for a successful academic year. The luck of the university continues on if you rub the panther’s nose before sporting events and exams.”
Why Is Georgia State the Panthers?
Some college football mascots and nicknames have deep-rooted backstories with links to the cultural heritage of a program. Some gained their names because the mascot embodies the spirit of the university. Some — like the Panthers mascot and nickname — don’t carry any deeper meaning or relevance.
Georgia State has been the Panthers since 1963, long before the university had a football program to represent them. After holding several other nicknames during the program’s history, a student vote settled on the Panthers — with no real explanation offered — and that nickname has remained ever since.
As mentioned above, however, the university hasn’t always had the Panthers mascot and moniker.
Early in its existence, the university was known as “Georgia Evening College,” and the sport’s teams carried the moniker “Owls” in reference to being a night owl, presumably. That nickname was replaced in 1947, with Georgia State becoming known as the “Ramblers” without any apparent reasoning behind the nickname.