Although the forward pass was legalized in 1906, it was primarily deployed as a last-ditch effort during the later downs. This article leads us to believe this all changed with the intercollegiate football season of 1919 when "aerial attacks" outnumbered laterals and hand-offs by a wide margin for the first time.
"Without the forward pass, well worked out and well played, both on attack and defense, there can be no high class football today. That's the big lesson of the season."
Pictured above is Curly Lambeau (1898 - 1965), one of the earliest practitioners of the forward pass (you can read about him HERE...).
An excellent article about the birth of the forward pass can be read on this site...