Tennessee fans had been waiting anxiously for the university to unveil their new Nike football uniforms. That day has now come and gone, and the following is a breakdown of the brand new creations the UT Vols will be sporting on the field for 2015 and beyond.
At first glance, the new Nike Tennessee uniforms do not appear to be a far reaching departure from the previous Adidas offerings. That being said, there are actually quite a few changes, most are subtle, others not so much.
Probably the most important and challenging aspect of the Volunteers uniform is achieving the proper shade of “Tennessee Orange”. This has been a major issue of concern with the fan base following many failed attempts by previous uniform suppliers to create a consistent orange that matches throughout the uniform, especially under the stadium lights. It has also been an issue in terms of fan gear.
Nike reps have claimed that “getting the right shade of orange” was of the utmost importance when designing the new uniforms and fan gear. At first glance, it seems they have made good on that claim. We will know for sure when the players hit the field and the fans can also claim that their Tennessee hat actually matches their Tennessee shirt.
As for the uniform design, one of the first things you will probably notice is that the new number font is slightly larger with a modern flare that seems to mimic the new Nike Tennessee word mark. It is a departure from the older block style numbers that Tennessee has used in the past, which may not appeal to some of the more traditional Vol fans, but all in all, it makes for a good look that the majority of fans seem to appreciate.
You will also notice that Nike incorporated Tennessee’s famous checkerboard pattern into the pant and helmet striping which makes for a nice touch. The solid single stripe subtly blends into the orange and white checkerboard at the bottom of the pants and on the base of the helmet. The idea of incorporating the checkerboard into the new uniforms is something that did not sit well with some Vol fans, as it has proven to come off as tacky and gimmicky in previous uniform concepts. Still, Nike managed to pull it off in a tasteful manner.
Another alteration includes adding an orange collar to the white away jersey, a look that the Vols previously sported with Adidas in 2010. This seems to be one of the more unpopular changes among the fan base, but the orange collar does provide a nice contrast that flows well with the rest of the orange accents throughout the road uniform.
Nike added the words “My All” to the inside of the collar on all of the new jerseys. This serves to pay homage to the Tennessee football credo “I will give my all for Tennessee today!” The “My All” label obviously won’t be visible on the field, but it is a solid touch that should also serve to motivate the players. The moniker will also be included on the Nike retail jersey for fans.
One element that will make its return from year’s past is the iconic “Power T” on the front of the home and away pants which will be accompanied by the Nike swoosh on the opposite side. I think the majority of Tennessee fans favor the “Power T” being on the pants, but some fans will miss the cleaner look of the more recent pants.
The most significant change under Nike can be spotted in the new alternate “Smokey Gray” uniforms. While the Volunteer fan base seems to be, for the most part, in favor of the new home and away Nike digs; they appear very much split on the new alternate uniforms based on the many responses found on social media and fan boards.
They either love the new “Smokey Grays” or they hate the new “Smokey Grays”, often for the very same reasons. Those who love them seem to favor the more streamlined two-tone gray jersey and the inclusion of a gray helmet. While those who hate them often state their displeasure as being the more streamlined two-tone gray jersey and the addition of a non-traditional gray helmet. You get the point.
The good news is that the players seem to love them based on their overwhelmingly positive reaction via social media. After all, their opinions matter most, as they are the ones that wear them on the field. It is also a bonus in terms of recruiting if the players and prospective recruits prefer the new look.
An interesting side note on the new gray helmet is that it features a ghosted silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains. When first hearing about this addition, most fans were quite skeptical, but it is subtle and adds a cool factor to the helmet that has been well received by the majority of Vol fans. The exception, of course, being those who hate the idea of Tennessee ever straying from their traditional white helmet.
Like Adidas before them, Nike is never going to please an entire Tennessee fan base with every design. Regardless of what Nike unveiled on July 1, 2015, most of the Tennessee faithful were going to love it, some were going to hate it and a few were going to teeter somewhere in the middle.
At the very least, there are always going to be certain elements of the uniforms, shoes and gear that will divide the fan base. That being said, I believe Nike succeeded in taking into account the varying tastes of an eclectic fan base when creating the new looks. The new Nike Tennessee Volunteers football uniforms should satisfy the palates of both the traditionalist and the modern fan.