It’s 15 minutes ’til kick off and the stands are still sparse with fans. Back in the locker room, sophomore D’Angelo Mandell paints black paint over the bridge of his nose and down his cheeks. The Cougars will be playing rival Boise State and the stakes are high. Junior Linebacker Chaz Ah You knows this game is big, so he dresses accordingly.
Gear trends in football have been evolving ever since the game started 150 years ago. Helmet styles change, uniform styles change and the accessories that players use to complete the look have changed as well.
The origins of these trends are not always known, but as Super Bowl Champion Deion Sanders said in a tweet, one thing is for sure: when you look good, you feel good and you play good.
Compression sleeves, power bands and headbands may not be synonymous with fashion accessories in the real world, but they certainly are in the football world.
Some players might believe that the right pair of gloves makes all the difference when they play, but in reality it’s all for looks.
Ah You explained that the way he suits up for a game will help set the mood for his intensity and attitude during the 60-minute game.
“If I’m wearing something stylish, it’s because I’m trying to elevate my game,” he said.
Ah You is always trying to think of things that are unique and haven’t been done before. One way he’s tried to be unique and show his personality was by taping his fingers for some games instead of wearing gloves when he plays.
“It’s something I started doing toward the end of the season,” Ah You said. “It feels like you have more freedom with your hands.”
The specifics of accessories are determined by position as well. Mandell went from one sleeve to two sleeves because he said a lot of the other cornerbacks made the switch first.
Mandell said that one thing all players strive for is individuality. One way that shows on the field is by the way the players dress. While everyone tries to come up with their own style, some might look toward players who they share the field with or to other players in the league for inspiration.
“You pull something different from everyone. Everyone’s ‘drip’ is from something they saw,” Mandell said.
For Junior Linebacker Kavika Fonua, dressing up adds to his confidence going into the game. Getting his mind right can make all the difference.
The most important thing for Fonua is making sure his own flare comes out and he “stays fresh.”