Vols will wear Nike’s top unis in ’17; Last signee clearing hurdles; Clark to ETSU?

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Tennessee isn’t an emissary for Nike’s iconic, trendy “Jumpman” brand — not yet, anyway, though not for lack of effort — but it is a program with profile enough to get a uniform elevation this fall from Nike.

After Nike, apparel provider thus far for all 12 College Football Playoff participants, debuted its newest, technologically advanced collegiate football uniforms, the Nike Vapor Untouchable Speed, for CFP teams Alabama, Clemson, Washington and Ohio State in December and January, it has tabbed the Volunteers among the programs with “elite” status for the coming 2017 season.

Which means the Vols will debut the sleeker Nike duds inside Mercedes Stadium for the season opener against Georgia Tech, which will see UT designated as the home team and in its orange jerseys. Tennessee has all three uniforms — orange, white and ‘Smokey Grey’ — in the new Nike design and material.

The uniforms are supposed to be Nike’s most lightweight, breathable collegiate football uniforms to date, projecting to weigh even slightly less than the Adidas TechFit uniforms that the Vols first donned in Butch Jones’ first season of 2013. The knock on those uniforms was their durability, and it again will be monitored closely with Nike’s iteration.

Team Swoosh did send some “Jumpman” threads the way of the fifth-year head coach Jones, but the Vols have not yet been successful in their wishes to wholly join the designer line in football that debuted last year with Michigan. Numerous recruits have told me that it is something Jones has openly discussed with them during their trips to Rocky Top, including the most recent Orange Carpet Day roughly two weeks ago at UT.

SPEAKING OF JORDANS …

People in Mississippi indicated to me that four-star Tennessee signee Jordan Murphy buckled down, took some online courses and graduated with an online degree as the last step of qualifying to arrive in Knoxville, with Murphy on target now to start second session summer classes on Monday, July 10.

Speaking of that date, it means summer classes again will not end until Aug. 11 — much to Butch Jones’ consternation. He’s spoken multiple times in the past about the impact the later calendars has on the Vols’ true training camp portion of August.

With fall classes getting underway on Aug. 23, it means the camp portion of UT’s pre-season practice will be just about nine days as Jones customarily makes the day before fall semester classes a light, mostly off day for his players.

AND A BIT MORE ON BRANDING …

I have confirmed first-hand that Jones’ decision to wear the coveted, almost-impossible-to-attain Adidas Yeezy shoes during recent visits with recruits was not lost on reps from both Adidas and Nike.

Needless to say Adidas was rather amused, particularly since Jones helped lead UT’s move away from the three-stripes brand and over to Nike a couple years ago, with Adidas at the time offering to provide more gear and up-front money. But UT had an overwhelming consensus, if not outright unanimous support, from all of its coaches for the move to Nike.

Nike, however, per a rep from headquarters, was less than amused to see Jones lending buzz to its direct competitor’s most fabled kicks.

Remember, it’s not been that long ago that Nike told Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher to have his son stop wearing Under Armour gear, and other college administrators have told me that Nike in the past has fined coaches undisclosed amounts for breaches in their hard-line apparel contracts.

DIAMOND DASH …

Look for ETSU to likely name Danny Clark as its next head baseball coach in the coming days. Several sources have indicated Clark has had multiple interviews with the Bucs’ brass.

And his resume is rather remarkable. Plus, if his name sounds familiar, it should. Clark, presently among the top pitching instructors for the Texas Rangers, was projected to be on staff for Ash Lawson had Lawson. Both Lawson and Clark merely have endorsements from the likes of Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux.

Plus, it’s believed Clark could add some other MLB flavor to the Bucs’ staff while also reaching into the college ranks for some successful recruiting staff.

And Clark is a former high school baseball coach in Tennessee who got his start by turning heads as head coach at Milligan College. So suffice to say, Clark is well respected throughout the Volunteer State and has strong contacts.

Tony Vitello, who landed the Vols’ job, has been active in recruiting and secured an in-state commitment recently from Pope John Paul II’s Jake Rucker. However, more top-notch in-state talent continues to commit to other SEC programs, with the Kentucky Wildcats succeeding on the field to unprecedented levels under Nick Mingione and continuing to recruit in the Volunteer State.

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