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Lions Ready to Sport Their New ‘Old’ Look

on September 30, 2017 5:00 AM

The Nittany Lions will run onto the field at Beaver Stadium on Saturday with a slightly new look. Well, actually, an old look -- several old looks -- but something to shake things up.

Combining elements of uniforms from every generation of great Penn State teams, the new uniforms span a century and hold secrets not everyone may know.

“This is something, to be honest with you, we've been talking about, me and (former equipment manager) Spider (Caldwell) started conversations about, from the day I arrived,” James Franklin said when the “Generations of Greatness” uniform was unveiled in June.

“About a way to honor our history and our traditions, and do something fun and a little bit different.”
It definitely will be different. The current stripe-less jerseys will be taking the week off. Everything fans can expect they've seen at some point before, if they’re old enough.

“I like throwbacks,” wide receiver Juwan Johnson said during a recent press conference. “When I got here, I always wanted to try different uniforms and see what Penn State can add a twist to … I’ve never had white cleats before.” Johnson caught the game-winning touchdown against Iowa on Sept. 23.

Starting from the top down, Penn State’s helmets are getting a makeover. From 1959 to 61 and from 1967 to 74, and once more briefly in 2012, the Nittany Lions’ helmets featured numbers. For this game, the numbers will be back, but the helmets will also feature old-school gray facemasks (these days they are blue).

“The number on the helmet, there have been different times we've done that. So, we started out just in one small time period, and then we said we actually have a number of years that we could use that to really tell our history in a very unique and specific way to Penn State,” Franklin said. The last time numbers were included on helmets was in 2012, when the Lions wore a No. 42 to honor injured linebacker Mike Mauti at the end of the season.

Heading down to the jersey, the sleeves will feature a white stripe. Penn State had the white stripe consistently as recently as 2011. From 1957 to 1966 and from 1982 to 1989, the team wore the white stripe. During the 1982-1989 stint, the Lions won two consensus national championships.

The uniforms also will feature a blue strip running down the side of the pants. That’s something Penn State did between 1952 and 1968.

On the front of the jersey will be block uniform numbers. Donned in the mid-1950s and the ’60s, this was the style when Penn State won its first bowl game — the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia in 1959.

History is all over the place with these uniforms. Other features are the white cleats worn during the 1979 Sugar Bowl, an ode to the Lion Shrine and striped socks.

“I think it's something that does two things. It really shows and reinforces all the tremendous history and tradition that we have here … and we can honor those things and tell this unbelievable story that we have here at Penn State of our history, and what better way to do it than with this uniform,” Franklin said.

The game against Indiana kicks off at 3:30 p.m.

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