The sun is setting on TCU’s preseason with the opener against LSU at AT&T Stadium a week away.So Friday evening was the perfect time for coach Gary Patterson to unveil the Horned Frogs’ new specialty uniforms by Nike, which are as black as night and have dozens of variations.Defensive end Devonte Fields, who attended Arlington Martin High School, strolled into the Four Sevens Team Room modeling the new threads in front the entire team and the media. Fields, the Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year last season, is suspended for the first two games this season for breaking team rules in the spring. Patterson said he used Fields because he’s “big, sleek and long.”The new duds are the fifth iteration from Nike, which also designed TCU uniforms in 2009, twice in 2010, including the Frogs’ Rose Bowl-winning togs, and in 2011.“Nike brought it to us and from the first step it was a go,” Patterson said. “Perfect design. We wanted something a little bit different, but [that] still highlights purple.”One of the biggest changes is on the helmet, where two streaks of red are flamed on both sides and the ‘TCU’ block-letter logo is positioned once on the back instead of on either side. Purple is the helmet’s dominant color, which has a “satin metallic metal finish,” according to Nike.Patterson had no reservations about moving the iconic TCU logo to the back of the helmet.“Nope, the key is you have to have a little bit of design,” he said. “There’s only so many ways you can do a helmet. So this was a little bit different. I liked the way it looks from the side. It’s got great shape.”Patterson added that there’s still a chance that a Horned Frog logo could make it on the helmet before the team’s 8 p.m. Aug. 31 opener in the Cowboys Classic, which will be televised on ESPN.“Maybe a little one,” he said. “We’re never going to forget the Frogs.”A scaly body armor with purple highlights covers the entire uniform in a distinctive pattern, including the jersey, pants and gear such as gloves. “Fear the Frog” is embroidered on the back of the jersey’s neckline. Both the gloves and the Nike Alpha Pro TD chrome-plated cleats are accented with red.“Red for us is about battle,” Patterson said, defending the red accents and dominating black. “We don’t want to forget our history. We wore black [jerseys] in the Rose Bowl.”But the team wore purple pants in the Rose Bowl. They’ve worn all black uniforms before, including in home losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State a year ago.“Remember, it’s an audience of 16 to 22-year olds is what we’re looking for as far as recruiting and what catches kids’ eyes,” Patterson said. “The person makes the uniform, not vice versa. Kids play well when they look good. You don’t go out and not take a shower. You want to look good, you want to put on your best clothes. Kids like to look good and especially look different.”The first time Nike designed special uniforms for TCU was for the Frogs’ win against Utah in 2009. They debuted new uniforms again for the 2010 season-opening win against Oregon State in the Cowboys Classic. Later that season they won the Rose Bowl in new uniforms. The Frogs went 11-2 in new uniforms during the 2011 season. Last year, the team’s first in the Big 12, they debuted a shiny chrome helmet.
Stefan Stevenson 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs