Texas A&M’s traditional maroon will have a different look this weekend when the Aggies wear their ‘Bright Lights’ uniforms against Mississippi State.
The two-toned jersey concept was pitched by sponsor Adidas in 2015, with the company offering A&M to be the first to wear them. After declining the initial idea two years ago, the Aggies brought back the design when planning this year’s alternate uniform 16 months ago.
“We were deciding what we were going to do for 2017 and we had not done a maroon-based alternate uniform to this point since we’ve been doing them since 2012,” head equipment manager Matt Watson said. “That’s where we revisited this concept and massaged it into what you’ll see on the field this Saturday.”
As part of A&M’s contract with Adidas, the sportswear company provides the team with at least one alternate uniform per season. Watson works as a middleman between Adidas and A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin to come up with ideas 12 to 18 months in advance.
“We’ll come in with an idea or a certain color pallet we’d like to use for a game we want to wear [the uniforms] in,” Watson said. “We’ll talk to Adidas about that and let them go to the drawing board and come back. On the flip side, Adidas will come to us and say, ‘Hey we’ve got a concept here we’d like to pitch to you guys.’ ”
Nailing down a design can vary in time, Watson said. This year’s look took longer due to the complexity of the jersey, which features a two-toned weave design. The usual shoulder stripes and beveled numbers were removed and there will be no names on the back.
“It’s a little more complicated just because there’s so much going on,” Watson said of this year’s uniform. “It’s really busy, you have a mash of two colors. It’s something we want to be respectful of our tradition, especially wearing it at home.”
The first step to making the uniform game ready is to make sure all uniforms are accounted for before sending them through an extensive washing process.
“We go through a pre-washing process to get out all the colors, so they don’t bleed,” assistant equipment manager Justin Volentine said. “We’ll pre-wash all the jerseys, pants, tight-fits and then I’ll start marking everything per player so whenever we go through our normal game week, we’re a step ahead.”
Players wore the new helmets and cleats during Monday’s no shoulder pad practice to break them in to make sure everything fit right. They will wear them again in Friday’s walk-thru. Helmets are only worn on non-contact days to keep players from damaging them during hitting drills.
“A day is enough for them to sweat in it to get them to feel if they need air [in the helmet] or any adjustments they need to make,” assistant equipment manager Bryan Gossett said. “ We don’t want them wearing it on a day we wear shoulder pads because you get scuff marks and gouges in the helmet.”
Sumlin himself decides which game the Aggies wear their special jerseys.
“He had picked two games this year, and the nature of the other game that we did not go with dictated us going with this game,” Watson said. “After looking at the situation several months ago, we decided that this weekend would be the better one to do it.”
Although there are 11 months separating now and the beginning of next season, Watson concluded that his staff is already well into planning next year’s alternate look and is hoping to see the first prototypes in the next couple weeks.
“We’ve been working on 2018 for a while, but it’s still got a long ways to go,” Watson said.