UT unveils new grid uniforms

Tennessee's new football uniforms, featuring a four-inch orange stripe that runs down each side of the jersey and pants, may or may not be a hit with the fans but they're certainly a hit with the players.

''I love the new uniforms, especially the away ones,'' said defensive end Karlton Neal, one of two players who ''modeled'' the new apparel at a Wednesday news conference. ''All the guys like the away ones better than the home ones. That might add a little spark to us this year.''

Naturally, the orange stripe on the white jersey is a lot more noticeable than it is on the orange home jersey. In addition, there is more black piping on the uniforms than in the recent past.

''We had black trim around the numbers before,'' Neal said, ''but this time they went all out and put it around everything.''

The way he sees it, the new apparel is appropriate.

''A team that's good should look good, too,'' he said.

When asked how he came to be selected as a model, Neal laughed.

''I don't know,'' he said. ''They just said I look good in a jersey, so I'm just going along with it.''

Tight end Jason Witten, who modeled the new home uniforms, also gave the striped togs a thumbs-up. He thinks the look is a little more intimidating than the traditional solid jersey of years past.

''I think it is,'' he said. ''I think it looks better. The guys enjoy it a lot and I think the fans are going to like it a lot, too. I think it's going to add a little something.''

At 6-5 and 260 pounds, Witten is a bit large for a model. Still, he isn't ruling out a career on the runway.

''If football doesn't work out, I'm going into modeling,'' he wisecracked. ''But I don't think anybody will take me, though.''

Witten conceded that putting on the pads again ''gets you excited,'' adding that the 2002 season is ''not far off. A lot of fans are excited about the opportunity for us to come back and, hopefully, have a good season.''

Although the new uniforms are sure to generate debate and excitement, wide receiver Kelley Washington is determined to keep them in perspective.

''They're sweet; I like 'em,'' he said. ''But it's not really what the uniforms look like. It's who's playing in 'em.''

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