Tennessee is expanding its football wardrobe.
Just weeks after first-year head coach Butch Jones hinted that the Vols might have a new uniform in their closets and on the heels of months of speculation, VolQuest.com has confirmed that Tennessee will unveil a third, gray uniform for the coming 2013 season.
The Vols will not alter their traditional white helmet with orange stripe and matching orange 'Power T' decals on both sides, but plan to work in the charcoal-gray home outfit that features orange numerals, piping, "VOLS" above the numbers on the front and an oversized 'Power T' on the pants. Curt Maggitt is the player featured in the video teaser promo that debuted Wednesday evening. The alternate uniform was being unveiled to the Vols during a team meeting shortly after 10 this morning.
"Everything is about our great pride and traditions here at the University of Tennessee," Jones told VolQuest.com. "We truly respect those traditions, but it's also building upon those traditions. Before anything can be a tradition, it has to have a beginning to it. Just like the Vol Navy, just like the Vol Walk, just like the 'Power T.' So when we looked at it, it was how can we continue to move forward. As you know, in the world of recruiting this is the world we live in.
"If you had to put a top-10 list that the prospective student-athletes ask you, in the top three would be uniforms. We obviously have great colors, and we're excited about the 'Smokey' gray addition to our traditions and our family here. A lot of thought went into this. We wanted to be very respective of our traditions, but also continue to move forward in this as well."
Added Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart, "I place a high value on our history and traditions. I also take pride in placing the highest priority on our department being student-athlete centered. In this instance, the alternate uniform to be worn in one game is all about responding to the desires of both our current and future players while maintaining and respecting our tradition. ...
"There's no question; Butch Jones again has been so genuine. In every priority he has been so articulated. And he has followed through with every priority that he has stated. And nobody has more respect for the Tennessee traditions than Butch. Butch is looking at 110 of those young men and as I feel we need to pay attention to what excites them too."
Tennessee will fully introduced the new uniforms on its website, www.utsports.com, and feature photos and videos.
Tennessee also has ordered custom, specialized cleats --- labeled as "lead" --- for the uniform combination. The darker grayish shoes also feature orange, checkerboard accents on the back-third of the shoe and adidas' trademark three-stripe look. There are also chrome-gray and orange gloves that accent the uniform.
The Vols will wear the outfit at home, most likely for an Southeastern Conference game against potentially Georgia, South Carolina or Auburn. Sources have indicated the Georgia game is the most likely option at this point. At least four sources indicated to VolQuest.com that Tennessee began the ordering process for the third uniform in June and that retailers of Vols' apparel were told they could order the additional option without knowing full details.
UT officials and players will formally unveil the uniforms Thursday afternoon at Neyland Stadium during the team's annual media day. Tennessee now will have five uniform options for the 2013 season.
Historically, it won't be the first time that Tennessee has donned a gray jersey. The Vols did so in the early 1900s, before orange was adopted and implemented as the official home uniform color. Two other times in the 2000s --- the season-opener in 2004 against UNLV and the 2009 homecoming, Halloween tilt versus South Carolina --- UT has elected to stray from its standard uniforms. The '04 contest, a Sunday night affair on ESPN, featured the Vols wearing throwback uniforms to the days when Tennessee legend Condredge Holloway was the team's starting quarterback.
Players in '09 convinced then-athletics director Mike Hamilton, under one-year coach Lane Kiffin, to wear black jerseys with orange numerals against the Gamecocks. The decision was made so last-minute that the Vols did not wear official adidas jerseys per the school's apparel contract. That contest also marks the last time Tennessee has recorded a win against a nationally ranked opponent or notched an October win in SEC play.
Even in adding to their uniform options, the Vols are attempting to pay homage to their championship past. The larger-than-standard 'Power T' on the gray pants is a direct nod to the white, road pants Tennessee wore adorned with a 'Power T' from 1995-98, when the Vols compiled a 45-5 record, two SEC titles and their last national championship in 1998. The numerals on the gray jerseys are larger than standard in a nod to the school's 1951 team that won the national championship under Gen. Robert R. Neyland.
"When you have such vibrant colors and very recognizable colors as our orange and white, we just thought that was a great accent for us," said Jones, who also noted the homage paid to UT's former superlative teams. "A gray tone has been used in our sideline apparel now for a number of years. It was kind of a no-brainer when you looked at it. We needed a dark color for a home uniform but also something that has been really kind of part of our program, quietly. So when you look at the 'Smokey' gray, it was a great fit for us."
Tennessee is expected to formally unveil all three of its uniforms for the '13 season --- Jones & Co. have added distinctive new touches to the home and away outfits as well --- during its annual pre-season media day today inside Neyland Stadium. Among the known changes on its two standard uniforms are the addition of Tennessee state outlines above the names on the backs of players' jerseys and branding on the fronts of uniforms above the jersey numbers. The home, orange jersey will feature an a distinctive 'Power T' above the numbers while the away jersey has been modified to include 'T-E-N-N-E-S-S-E-E' above the all-orange --- the black outlines are gone --- numbers.