Notebook: 'U' goes with classic over flash; confidence on the rise
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In the end, the Gophers football team decided to go with substance over flash in creating its new-look uniforms.
After several weeks of hype and anticipation, the Gophers unveiled their sleek, but classic-inspired Nike jerseys with an edge of fanfare on Friday in front of a crowd of fans and media members at TCF Bank Stadium.
Featuring eight different combinations of maroon, gold and white jerseys and pants, the uniforms hold numerous subtle tributes to Gophers history. The numbering on several of the jerseys are accented with a brick pattern that is a nod to the team's previous outdoor home -- Memorial Stadium -- while the other uniforms carry a similar look to the ones worn by the Bernie Bierman-era Gophers of the 1930s and 40s.
"I think you have to look back at when you were successful to be successful," coach Jerry Kill said. "That was all part of the design. Nike did a great job of having the history of Minnesota in that uniform."
The new jerseys are already having their desired effect on the Gophers as was exhibited by the excitement generated by the several players in attendance at the event.
"Minnesota is big on tradition and this uniform right here represents it," starting quarterback MarQueis Gray said.
A uniform overhaul wasn't the Gophers' only noticeable change on Friday.
Without a seismic program upheaval to deal with, "U" players and coaches are benefiting from having a stable off-season
"You see a lot more confidence -- a lot more swagger -- through all the players," Gray said.
As was expected, the first season of the Jerry Kill-era was a tumultuous, trying string of games that saw the Gophers gradually develop from a floundering program into a team that showed periods of fluidity and promise.
Those moments of clarity have helped chip away at some of the excuses that come with the first season under a new coaching regime. After several months to regroup and look back at the ups-and-downs from their second straight three-win season, the Gophers now carry a striking level of grounded optimism and a firm grip on their expectations for the season ahead.
"We're in a lot better situation than we were in a year ago," Kill said. "Right now, we've just got to keep the positive wave going. There will still be bumps in the road, but our kids are starting to understand what they're going to have to do to compete at the Big Ten level."
The players resumed group workouts last week after an extended hiatus brought on by the University's semester break. They will continue with a rigid regimen under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Eric Klein until the Gophers' spring practice sessions begin in late-March.
• Offensive lineman Jimmy Gjere has yet to be cleared by team doctors since he suffered a concussion in the Gophers' fifth game last season against Michigan. Kill said he has been in talks with Gjere's family and is comfortable with the current state of his rehab.
• Freshman wide receiver Marcus Jones' recovery from a mid-season ACL tear is still ongoing. While Jones has had no reported setbacks, Kill would not say if the 5-foot-8, dynamic young receiver will be ready for spring practice.
"We're not pushing that issue, but knowing Marcus, he'll probably find a way to get that done," Kill said.
• The much-anticipated end to the recruiting season is nearly upon the Gophers' coaching staff as less than two weeks remain until National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
"I don't think you ever feel good until that day is over, to be honest with you," said Kill, who came to Friday's news conference directly from a weeklong recruiting trip to Ohio.
Kill will spend the remainder of the weekend on campus with another batch of potential recruits, before heading back out on the road Monday for one final campaign trip.
• Back-up quarterback Tom Parish has left the Gophers football program, Kill confirmed. The redshirt sophomore from Hartland, Wis., did not see any playing time in his two years at the "U" after he fell further down the depth chart last season with the emergence of freshman Max Shortell.