The Utah Utes are breaking out new uniforms for their Pac-12 season, but the new design is more about comfort for the players than a marketing strategy to sell a bunch of Pac-12 gear.
Under Armour has switched to new materials, so it is updating the uniforms of the teams the company sponsors.
The materials are supposed to fit tighter, making it harder for opponents to grab the jerseys, and are supposed to breathe better as well.
Design-wise, the uniforms feature only subtle changes, which include a topographical map of the Salt Lake Valley that appears on the numbers and pants and the saying "A Utah Man Am I" on the cuff of the jerseys.
The only change to the helmets is a Pac-12 logo on the back.
The changes are so slight that Kelly Sharitt, Utah's director of equipment operations, doubts fans will notice.
"You might be able to see it on TV and we don't know how it will look when the players sweat, but it's not noticeable," he said.
The Utes have taken the topography design and implemented it elsewhere, including the team's equipment truck.
While the Utes have worn special uniforms for their "Blackout" games, Utah's basic uniform hasn't been overhauled since 2008, when the Utes switched from Nike to Under Armour.
Sharitt said there are no plans for any major design changes and dismissed rumors that the Utes will eliminate the drum-and-feather logo on the helmets to be more in line with other Pac-12 teams that have moved away from using American Indian symbols.
The Utes have permission from the Ute Tribal Council to use the drum-and-feather logo.
"That is just talk nothing is in the works," Sharitt said. "I don't think politically we can change that unless we were forced to."
Back in line
Senior Derrick Shelby, who is listed as the starter at right end, can't wait for the season opener to not only play a game, but also to prove he is back to his old self. Shelby suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2009 and spent most of 2010 recovering. He played in 12 games and started the last seven, but wasn't quite as strong as he wanted to be. Now he is.
"It hasn't bothered me in quite a while," he said. "Now I'm just trying to capitalize on the opportunities given to me. Last season didn't quite go as I planned. Hopefully this season goes better."
Lewis Walker, a former Judge Memorial standout who transferred from Hawaii to Utah, has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to play this year. The junior defensive back played in 24 games for Hawaii, finishing with 28 tackles. … Utah coach Kyle Whttingham is 4-2 in season openers.