Tempe, AZ – Look good. Feel good. Play good. The Arizona State Uniforms deliver all that and then some.
That’s the motto of today’s college football player and it’s a formula for success. From wristbands to shoe laces and socks to helmet decals, wearing the proper “swag” on game day matters.
The Sun Devil equipment staff is responsible for making sure that the team is locked, loaded and ready for kickoff, but the preparation starts long before game time.
Coach Graham understands the importance of the uniform combinations and has input on every decision.
“It’s a huge deal for our players,” Graham said. “When you take a look in the mirror, you want to look sharp. To become a champion, you must first look like a champion. Our guys pick what they wear and we have some of the best uniforms in the country. We’ve also got the best equipment staff in the country. On game day, when we walk in that locker room, we want it to look like a place where champions reside.”
The Head Coach is right on the money, and it’s paying off with not only the current team, but also future recruits.
When the new “flame” helmets were unveiled for the Notre Dame game, he saw the opportunity to do something cool and unique on a national stage that would create some buzz for the program. Interesting note: The original helmet design idea for the Notre Dame game was all chrome with flames. But after more than five different samples were reviewed, the flames didn’t show well, so they switched it to the darker color.
All the new helmet designs are produced by a company called HGI (Hydro Graphics Inc.) near the Nike campus in Portland, Oregon. They also create helmets for other top NCAA programs. HGI sends the samples to ASU so they can review and approve the designs.
When a box arrives in Tempe from HGI, opening it is like Christmas morning for the equipment staff. There are also some exciting new uniform plans for the Notre Dame game next year in Tempe.
The Arizona State Uniforms also represent the players on the team. “The uniforms, equipment and how we take care of our guys at ASU is first class and best in the country,” Graham added.
Last year, Graham and the equipment staff surprised the players for the blackout game against Oregon with new helmet decals. When the team saw the helmets at their lockers, the players were pumped. Anything that can give players an extra edge before stepping onto the field is valuable.
To find out all these details and more, I went straight to the source.
When I stopped by the equipment room at Sun Devil Stadium, I entered the door next to the locker room by the entrance of Tillman Tunnel. The place was buzzing with assistant equipment staff unpacking boxes of fresh Holiday Bowl gear for the team. I made my way to the office to meet with Jerry Neilly, the Assistant Equipment Operations Coordinator for ASU. Neilly followed Graham from Tulsa to Tempe.
He spoke passionately about his job. “We want our players to look like NFL players on game day. All the lockers are set up the same way and everything is laid out to perfection. Every little detail matters…Everything.”
DieHard Sun Devil fans love this stuff and ASU merchandise sales have climbed to the Top 30 in the NCAA. Sun Devil Equipment has also added to the excitement of the Arizona State Uniforms craze by taking it to social media.
“Fans get really excited when we tweet out photos of the uniform for that week,” Neilly said. “The interest has increased ten fold since we started interacting with fans on social media. We are closing in on 5,000 followers and it’s growing every day.”
Neilly said that Coach Graham is always forward thinking about his team’s look. He has the staff design some ideas, then Graham will review and approve. They also get important input from the players on the Arizona State Uniforms because he wants them to be excited about it.
The “review board” includes the seniors and mainly the guys on defense. Graham, a defensive minded coach, jokingly says the guys on defense have more swag. Will Sutton had the most input, with a little help from senior’s Alden Darby and Osahon Irabor to name a few.
Neilly is especially proud of the design he helped put together for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last year, coming up with the white/black/white combo with the new helmet decal. He also worked with Sutton to finalize the design.
Away games present an additional challenge. The staff loads a remarkable 11,000 pounds of equipment in their powerful semi-truck, including all of the teams apparel, cleats, helmets and uniforms. Interesting fact: Their load includes 72 footballs.
For the Holiday Bowl on December 30th, the team will be wearing white jerseys and maroon gloves. For now, the rest of the uniform details are kept secret. However, it will be a combo that we haven’t seen this season.
Follow Sun Devil Equipment on Twitter at @SunDevilEquip