LINCOLN — The video capturing the reaction of Nebraska's football players showed nothing but smiles. They just realized they'd be wearing black jerseys against UCLA this fall.
The team had been talking about it for a while. Even NU Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst heard the chatter.
So when the Huskers gathered in their auditorium-style meeting room Tuesday morning, it didn't take long for them to convey their approval — and that was ultimately the objective as Nebraska officials and Adidas designers collaborated to create an alternate uniform that hinted at NU tradition but embraced new-age trends, Eichorst said.
“Black is a color that our student-athletes are always interested in wearing, but you've got to have a balance there,” he said. “I think we were able to incorporate the black in a way that still played well with our history and tradition, particularly as it relates to making sure that our iconic block 'N' is in red. That's the way it is on the helmet and that's the way it is on the pants.”
The black jerseys are part of Husker history, too, normally reserved for the first-team defense in practice. Nebraska hasn't worn solid black jerseys in a football game before, though other Husker sports teams have sported black-dominated looks.
The black hue was incorporated in Nebraska's alternate uniform against Wisconsin last season — the Huskers' helmets were black.
Adidas, which as NU's apparel partner started brainstorming a year ago, took it a step further this time, ultimately pitching the uniform that Eichorst and NU officials soon approved.
The “N” sits on both sides of a matte white helmet, split in half by a solid black stripe. The face mask fades from red in the middle to black on both ends.
It's a sleek-looking black jersey that has stencil numbers in white. Those white pants — with that a red “N” stamped on the front left hip — have a black stripe down the side. The socks have a candy-cane design in red and black.
Nebraska will wear the alternate uniforms on Sept. 14 against UCLA, which presumably will unveil its own special jerseys at a later date.
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“Particularly from my perspective, (we wanted) to be mindful of our history and traditions, what's made us special,” Eichorst said. “But to also be able to step outside the box and be progressive in what we're doing. Because it's a different generation of young people today.”
Perhaps that's why three of Nebraska's assistant coaches made sure to mention the alternate look on Twitter. One NU recruiting target, receiver T.V. Williams, used Twitter to positively describe the uniforms as “icy.”
Several current Husker players were active on various social media platforms for a couple hours Tuesday, sharing photos and applauding the design.
“They were really excited,” Eichorst said.
Just wait until they try them on, said Mark Daniels, Adidas director of football.
Those alternate jerseys — and all of Nebraska's standard uniforms this fall — will include Adidas' “Techfit” and “ShockWeb” styles, which, according to the company, will make them lighter, more form-fitting and more durable.
“When you look at this jersey, it looks like a T-shirt,” Daniels said.
He said there's 17 percent better range of motion. But it fits so tightly that grabbing the jersey will be more difficult than ever.
Mix that technology in with an aesthetic design that “pays homage to Nebraska's tradition,” and you have a uniform that players are thrilled about, Daniels said.
“When (players) look good and feel good, they play good,” he said. “(The new uniforms) give them that extra step.”
Plans are in motion to make the alternate jerseys available for fans to purchase, Eichorst said. More information on that will be released at a later date.
Eichorst also said that Nebraska has not committed to an alternate uniform for 2014, but he remains open to discussing that in the future. Daniels said designs are already being crafted, just in case.
Here's video of the Husker players reacting to the new uniforms:
Here's the official release video for the new uniforms:
See player and fan reaction on social media: