Sept. 30, 2013
By Brian Rice KNOXVILLE, Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- The long-awaited Smokey gray jersey will see the field for the first time Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium as the Volunteers host Georgia in a game that will be seen coast-to-coast on CBS.
When the uniforms were first unveiled in August, Jones said he was waiting to name an exact date for their initial time on the field. But he also said at the time that he didn't like surprises, and would announce the date ahead of game week. He did just that on Sunday night and explained why he felt the time was right at his Monday media briefing.
"First of all, it's an opportunity to be on national television at 3:30 against a great opponent in Georgia," Jones said. "In recruiting, players look forward to seeing different uniforms and I think it's something that our fan base has been waiting for."
Jones said it was important to keep in mind that the color of the jersey doesn't change what happens on the field.
"I know our players have been looking forward to wearing them," he said. "But that makes no impact in the outcome of the game. We have to play the game, the game is one between the lines."
"Well use them for extra juice, but it's all about how we play, not what we wear," senior center James Stone said, echoing the thoughts of his head coach. "It's something cool, an incentive to go out there and play as hard as we can."
When the Vols run through he T in gray, it will mark just the third time since the 1930s that a Tennessee 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.
Gray isn't a color that is without tradition at UT. In addition to being listed as a school color in the University's official style guide,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.
The uniform itself features a solid gray jersey with orange numbers with a checkerboard pattern, outlined in white. "Vols" appears in block lettering below the neckline, marking the first time the UT nickname has appeared on the football uniform. The pants are gray with two orange stripes, trimmed in white, that mirror the stripes on the normal home and away pants. There is a Power T on the hip, a logo previously featured in that location from 1995-2005. The only previous time the "T" and a stripe were on the pants together was in 2002.