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UK football plans to 'Rise' with new uniforms

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Kentucky football players Brian Adams (left) and Anthony Mosley modeled UK's new Nike Pro Combat uniforms at a presentation on Thursday at the Lyric Theater in Lexington. (photo by Evan Crane, UK Athletics) Kentucky football players Brian Adams (left) and Anthony Mosley modeled UK's new Nike Pro Combat uniforms at a presentation on Thursday at the Lyric Theater in Lexington. (photo by Evan Crane, UK Athletics)
Full photo gallery | Video of presentation

Coinciding with the revealing of its new slogan for the 2011 season, "Rise," the Kentucky football team unveiled new uniforms on Thursday at the Lyric Theater in Lexington.

The Nike Pro Combat uniforms use Nike's latest technology and most fashionable look, giving what the UK football team hopes are its best chance to win and its best look as it tries to rise in 2011.

"Nike has been consistently improving their product, and I just thought that with the new technology and the new designs that they have come up with, I thought the time was right to create this new look," head coach Joker Phillips said. "The design we thought was very eye catching for recruits. The uniforms also incorporate a Kentucky tradition."

The uniforms feature cutting-edge technology, which Nike Director of Licensing Dee Scott pointed out to the crowd at Lyric Theater.

Among the uniforms many features:

  • Flywire: Neck band stabilization, high strength, low weight and bulk
  • Zoned ventilation: Mesh in high-sweat areas where there are no pads to interfere with ventilation
  • Zoned stretch: Lightweight stretch woven fabrics in areas of low impact and low strength requirements
  • Built-in padding: Additional impact protecting built into key areas of the knee and illiac crest
  • Baselayer integration: Integrated with Nike Pro Combat baselayer
  • Tailored: Tailored hems and cuffs for less bulk, more comfort and mobility

The new uniforms are also 30 percent lighter than UK's previous uniforms, a key component in arguably the nation's fastest conference, the Southeastern Conference.

"The Nike Pro Combat is built from the inside out and is all about speed," said Scott, who, along with Nike colleague Kara Hegwood, made the cross-country trip from Oregon for Thursday's presentation. "We know that football has changed dramatically. Athletes are bigger, stronger and faster, so what we are trying to achieve is all about speed -- speed of the game and speed at the end of the game so that you can still have mobility in this system of dress. This is our newest, latest and greatest, and we are pretty pleased with it."

Anthony Mosley, one of two players at Thursday's presentation who modeled the new uniforms, said one of his favorite features of the new uniforms is their breathe-ability.
 
"When we're drinking water, it kind of drips down and can weigh you down, even sweat from other players," Mosley said. "It really becomes almost a hindrance. You can feel heavy. It can bring extra weight on you. Now I can definitely tell a difference. It's also water repellent as well, so if it starts raining, you won't get bogged down by the water."

Along the shoulder pads and side of the pants, the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms feature a checkered design, which pays homage to Kentucky Derby winner Secretariat. (photo by Evan Crane, UK Athletics) Along the shoulder pads and side of the pants, the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms feature a checkered design, which pays homage to Kentucky Derby winner Secretariat. (photo by Evan Crane, UK Athletics)
Of course, uniforms in today's modern sports world are as much about looks as they are about performance. In designing the uniforms, Nike set out with a motto of "Flash Forward, The Future of Speed."

With that in mind, Nike designed the uniforms to represent the strength and stamina of Kentucky symbols like legendary head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, the 1950 national championship team and superhorse Secretariat to give it a "classic" look.

As a tribute to Secretariat's silks, a checkered pattern dons the area near the shoulder pads and along the side of the pants. Nike has also brought back UK's white helmets for the first time since the 2002 season, a push that wide receiver Brian Adams, the other model at Thursday's presentation, said he and Randall Cobb pushed for.

The look and attractiveness of a uniform has become a huge tool in the recruiting process, Phillips said. Players are taking notice of uniforms more than ever, and Phillips even admitted to losing a player "way back when" on the color of a uniform.

"We've come a long way," Phillips said. "We've gotten to a point to that's where we are. You've got to understand it and go with it. Hopefully this uniform gives us an edge."

When Phillips was a player in the 1980s, he played in a plain uniform with just a couple of stripes. Now, there a lot of factors that goes into making a uniform.

"The first thing you have to have is safety," Phillips said. "Being light and being able to absorb hits helps also. Just being able to create a new look is an opportunity we couldn't pass up."

Mosley admitted to being one of those players that took uniforms into consideration in the recruiting process.

"When I was recruited, I knew I wanted to come to a Nike school," Mosley said. "I knew that I wanted to come to a school that had some pretty good uniforms. When you go out and in front of 70,000 fans and in front of the millions that watch SEC games, you want to look good in front of everybody and play good in front of everybody."

Kentucky is bringing back white helmets for the first time since the 2002 season. (photo by Evan Crane, UK Athletics) Kentucky is bringing back white helmets for the first time since the 2002 season. (photo by Evan Crane, UK Athletics)
Phillips, who will have the final say on uniform selections for each game, said UK's new uniforms will feature more looks than the two modeled at Thursday's presentation. Kentucky's uniforms won't change features every single game like Oregon, but there will be subtle changes from time to time.

Phillips gave credit to Oregon, which was in the national title game last season, for starting the new uniform craze.

"They have definitely set the tone for new uniforms with the way they have mixed and matched the numerous uniforms that they've had," Phillips said. "It's been helpful for them. Who would have thought 10 years ago that Oregon would be playing for a national championship? I think the new uniforms definitely had to have something to do with that. They've been able to get into different uniforms just because you and I are talking about it."

The new uniforms are the latest addition to a UK football program that continues to try and make waves in the SEC.

"Over the past several years, we've witnessed as Kentucky football has begun its rise," said Jason Schlafer, UK Athletics' associate athletics director for marketing and licensing. "We've witnessed a rising fan support, once unknown players rise up from the depth chart to become household names in (Wesley) Woodyard, (Jacob) Tamme, (Derrick) Locke and (Randall) Cobb, and it's critical that we continue our rise."

Not losing sight of the bigger goal and circling around this year's theme, Phillips pointed out what the addition of the new uniforms is all about.

"The most important thing is win games," Phillips said.

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3 Comments

This is cool & the uniforms are definitely key to keep pace with. What about introducing a BLACK jersey as the 3rd alternate? I have the UK BLK Basketball shorts & people rave about the combo of the BLK & UK's Blue. People have also commented on the BLACK Baseball Team's jerseys & question why FOOTBALL does not have a BLK colorway. Just something to think about.....Thanks

Oregon had a camoflauge uniform last year please consider this to offer thanks to our men and women who have served our country. Love Kentucky!! Kick some butt coach!!

wow they go hard

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  • abeid hussein: wow they go hard read more
  • Ed Hayden: Oregon had a camoflauge uniform last year please consider this to offer thanks to our men and women who have read more
  • jason lesperance: This is cool & the uniforms are definitely key to keep pace with. What about introducing a BLACK jersey as read more
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