Putting The Shine On Ole Miss Football

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM The Ole Miss locker room at Davis Wade Stadium
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
The Ole Miss locker room at Davis Wade Stadium
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Dec. 12, 2013

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. -- The Ole Miss football equipment truck arrived at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville around 11 a.m., about seven and a half hours prior to kickoff.

When the coaches and players arrived at their lockers shortly before 5 p.m., everything was already laid out, from the white jerseys, white pants and blue tights for players, to the polos, pants and jackets for coaches and staff.

The process for the equipment staff, led by head equipment manager Ken Crain and assistant director of equipment operations John Ross, began more than a year earlier with ordering the current line of gear and apparel, headlined by the Rebels' uniform modifications released during the 2013 BancorpSouth Grove Bowl.

"The summer of 2012 they brought it up and discussed it, and Nike made samples and brought it to us to approve, so (Athletics Director) Ross (Bjork) and Coach (Hugh) Freeze were on the same page and discussed what they wanted to do," Ross said of the new football uniforms. "Even then, that was summer of 2012, so we didn't get it until this year."

Ordering uniforms, Ross said, sometimes takes up to two years. For the rest of the gear and apparel, he said it's usually about nine months out when they have to order. For football, they did their first order for next year at the end of October for delivery in June and July when players report for offseason workouts.

"Nike is banking on that the things that we wear, the fans will wear, so they're wanting to build off that," Ross said. "They want us to promote their product to put it in stores. Coach Freeze is big into the short-sleeve jackets. We call them hot jackets. He loves those, so Nike has made more of those available to us, and in different colors.

"In the summer of 2014, they will come in and have the line artwork and samples of all the different products. It's similar for a lot of schools, and you see a lot of the same Nike item, just different colors at the different Nike schools."

Whether it's the white jersey and white pants uniform combination, or one of the other new combinations, or one of the older combinations, it's a joint decision, similar to the design of the new uniforms and decisions on other Nike products.

"It's a combination of coaches and players getting together and deciding what to wear," Crain said. "For road games, we have to know a couple of days before, but for home games, we wait until Thursday or Friday."

Along with the uniforms, the most visible part of Ole Miss equipment is the 18-wheel equipment truck, which has undergone three different schemes, most recently one before last year's BBVA Compass Bowl.

For road games, the equipment truck is a mobile equipment room and training room and leaves ahead of the players, coaches and staff, so the equipment and training staff can set up their respective areas in opposing stadiums.

The week of the Mississippi State game, Crain, Ross and the student managers loaded the truck after the team's practice on Wednesday, checking off trunks and bags of equipment, as well as travel bags for the players.

"We usually load the truck the day or two before an away game," said Ken Harpe Davis, one of the student managers. "We have our big 18-wheeler truck that we load all the trunks with extra jerseys, pants, shoulder pads, helmets and all that kind of stuff. We load it up. All the trainers will put their stuff in there as well. We have all the balls. Everything you can possibility think of that we might need for a game; we load it up in there. We pack it up and get ready to go on the road."

"If we want to play big-time football, we need to look like a big-time program when we get there with our equipment," said Donny Smith, who drives the truck. "When we come into these places, people are as excited about this truck as anything else. They're waving, clapping and taking pictures."

After the truck arrived at Davis Wade Stadium, Crain cleaned the locker room and put name stickers on the lockers for the players and coaches between 11 and 11:30 a.m.

The student managers arrived at noon, and they unloaded the truck and set up the locker room with two pairs of shoes, knee braces, helmets, pads, jerseys, tights, girdles and socks for players and assorted polos, pants, jackets and shoes for coaches and staff.

They finished the first round of setup around 1:30 p.m. and returned to the locker room around 2:30 p.m. to shine the helmets with Pro Prep Helmet Cleaner, which some of the managers likened to the polish on NASCAR race cars.

"The day before the game, we get their shoulder pads and we put tape on it, which helps the jersey stick to it, so it's harder for people to hold onto them, and put their jerseys on their pads," said Jonas Boyles, another student manager, whose primary responsibility is cloth goods. "On game day, we clean up the locker room, put out their game jerseys and game loops, put out all their cleats, gloves and helmet and make sure everyone has everything they wear for the game."

The student managers then put the finishing touches on the locker room and setting up the field, from the balls, to the kicking nets, to the heaters, as they anticipate the arrival of the team.

During the game, they have various responsibilities, some as ball runners, and others assisting with duties such as holding up personnel and play cards on the sidelines. And then after the game, as coaches and players clean out their lockers and prepare to leave, they help break down the locker room, pick up clothing and other gear and reload the equipment truck to travel back to Oxford.

"When you first get here as a freshman, you roam around and help as much as you can, and fortunately for me, I played running back in high school, and the running backs manager my freshman year was a senior, so when he graduated, I took over his responsibilities in the spring, and I have been with Coach Nix since then," said Max Curtis, a student manager, whose primary responsibility is coaches' gear.

"Pretty much every student manager who graduates, they go off and are successful in something," said Crain of student managers.

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • UPDATED: Hugh Freeze's Day At ESPN Car Wash

      Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - Football

      UPDATE: Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.Here are more of Coach Freeze's interviews in Bristol. Scroll down to the earlier post to hear him on Ivan Maisel's podcast. Listen: Freeze on the Paul Finebaum Show Listen: Freeze on the Freddie Coleman Show... read more

    • Freeze Visits ESPN Headquarters Monday

      Sunday, July 20, 2014 - Football

      All 14 Southeastern Conference football coaches will travel to ESPN's annual mid-summer football coaches "car wash" - in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day - at ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters on Monday and Tuesday. Ole... read more

    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss At SEC Media Days

      Friday, July 18, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss took its turn at the annual SEC Media Days on Thursday. Joining head coach Hugh Freeze was senior quarterback Bo Wallace, junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and senior safety Cody Prewitt. Here are a few related SEC Media... read more

    • Rebels Raise Expectations Entering Year Three

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said on day one that his expectations were to make the program relevant in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. With a full allotment of 85 scholarship players and more depth of both sides of... read more

    • Healthy, Confident Wallace Eyes Atlanta

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Once overshadowed, Wallace now finds himself more firmly in the spotlight after the departure of seven of the league's eight top passers. The dean of SEC quarterbacks, Wallace is the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing... read more

    • Freeze Meets With Local Media At Media Days

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Before taking his turn at the podium in the main room at SEC Media Days on Thursday, head coach Hugh Freeze met with members of the Ole Miss local media and addressed a wide variety of topics. Here are some... read more

    • What They're Saying: Day 3 Of SEC Media Days

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Three of SEC Media Days, which featured Steve Shaw (SEC), Justin Connolly (ESPN),... read more

    • What They're Saying: Day 2 Of SEC Media Days

      Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M... read more

    • Ole Miss In CFB 24/7 14 For '14 Series

      Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - Football

      NFL.com CFB 24/7 has counted down the 14 college football players to watch -- and some other college football topics -- in varying categories in 2014. Below are the highlights for Ole Miss and the link to the complete 14... read more

    • What They're Saying: Day 1 Of SEC Media Days

      Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day 1 of SEC Media Days, which featured SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Auburn, Florida... read more

    • Cozart Named Best Defensive SS Of First Half

      Sunday, July 13, 2014 - Baseball

      Former Ole Miss player Zack Cozart, now a member of the Cincinnati Reds, was named the best defensive shortstop in baseball for the first half of the 2014 season. ESPN Insider Scott Spratt selected one player from either league at... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Baseball Postseason

      Saturday, July 12, 2014 - Baseball

      The Season: Ole Miss Baseball: Omaha Bound from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 1: Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 2: Super Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 3: CWS Games 1 & 2... read more

    • Ole Miss Preps For SEC Media Days

      Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - Football

      Three student-athletes and the head coach of each of the 14 Southeastern Conference football programs will participate in SEC Football Media Days, July 14-17, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.Ole Miss will take its... read more

    • Ole Miss And The World Cup

      Thursday, July 3, 2014 - Athletics

      The United States' run in the 2014 World Cup came to an end with a 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium in the Round of 16. For many fans, it's also the end of the road, but for a few Ole... read more

    • Kennedy Talks Staff, Roster On Teleconference

      Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - Men's Basketball

      Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy talks about the addition of assistant coach Tony Madlock and the new-look roster for the upcoming season, among other topics, on the SEC Summer Men's Basketball Coaches Media Teleconference Monday. Here are the highlights:Ole... read more