Aug 15, 2013
By: Brian Rice
By: Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A Tennessee team wearing a color other than orange hasn't been a common sight at Neyland Stadium, but Butch Jones announced the Volunteers would do just that on Thursday afternoon in the Peyton Manning Locker Room Complex. Tennessee and adidas unveiled the five uniform combinations for the 2013 season, including the newest addition to the Tennessee tradition, the Smokey gray jersey and pants that will be worn for a home game this season.
"The representatives from adidas came in and the big thing I wanted to make sure of was that we didn't lose our identity and who we are," Jones said after Curt Maggitt modeled the new uniform. "It keeps the tradition that we have here, but it also expands on a tradition. It's like we talked about with our football team, traditions all have a beginning stage. With the Smokey gray jersey, we're hoping that our fans, our alumni, our student body welcome the Smokey jersey into traditions."
The game in which the Smokey gray jersey will be worn, to be announced at a later date, will mark just the third time since the 1930s that a Volunteer team has worn anything other than orange on Shields-Watkins field. In 2004, the Vols wore a throwback white jersey with orange shoulders for the home opener against UNLV, a 42-17 Tennessee victory. In 2009, Tennessee wore a black jersey with orange numbers and orange pants for a 31-13 win over South Carolina.
As Jones pointed out in his introduction, gray isn't a color that is without tradition at UT. The undefeated Volunteers of 1914 wore gray uniforms en route to a 9-0 record while outscoring opponents, 347-37. In that 1914 campaign, Z. G. Clevenger's team allowed more than seven points on just one occasion, a 16-14 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville.
"We wanted to be extremely selective," Jones said. "We wanted to make sure that it represented our program in the proper taste, the proper fashion, that it respected our tradition, so we did our due diligence. There were a lot of long hours of discussion and I'm very excited because everyone had a part of that and adidas did a great job."
The home orange jersey, which has remained virtually unchanged since 1936, underwent a couple of small revisions, most notably the addition of an embroidered state of Tennessee on the back of the jersey above the nameplate.
"We talk about being the `Pride of Tennessee,'" Jones said in introducing the updated orange jersey. "It's a pride of who we are representing this great state."
The away white jersey features a block "Tennessee" across the chest above the orange numbers, which now feature a subtle checkerboard pattern. The back of the jersey has an orange Power T above the nameplate.
"When we go on the road, we understand we represent Tennessee wherever we go with the `Tennessee' across the chest," Jones said.
Both the home and away jerseys are completely orange and white, with the black accents removed from the white jersey and the adidas logo now rendered on the jerseys and pants in orange or white.
Jones said the player reaction had him excited for the unveiling.
"To say that they were excited would be the least to say," Jones said in describing the scene at a team meeting earlier Thursday morning. "But it's what we do on the field, bottom line winning football games, but it's about the student athlete experience and we can never forget about that. We're asking 17-22 year old individuals to represent our tradition, to represent our great state and our institution, so they were very excited."