March 19, 2017, Atlanta: Georgia Tech forward Quinton Stephens salutes after making a three pointer against Belmont guard Dylan Windler during the first half in their NIT tournament round two NCAA basketball game on Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Former Georgia Tech athletes weigh in on Russell, future options

Four former Georgia tech stars were queried on their experiences wearing Russell Athletic gear and the possibility of Tech partnering with either Adidas, Nike or Under Armour.

FREDDIE BURDEN, 2016 football captain

“That’s huge. Russell, it’s been good, we’ve been wearing them for a long time. We appreciate all the Russell gear and everything, but switching to Nike, Under Armour or Adidas, any one of those, the athletes are going to love it. They’re going to love it. It’s going to help recruiting, No. 1, and the current athletes are going to appreciate it that much more. Hopefully, they’ll get more gear. Russell didn’t get us too much gear, and so hopefully, one of these, they’ll give the guys more gear, so they can have GT football shirts or GT attire they can wear around, kind of make the name more known.”

On Russell Athletic uniforms:

“It didn’t look awful. It was O.K. But I think just the fact that you see other teams, they update their jerseys every year, or come up with some cool design. Recruits really look at that stuff. Some people might not think it makes a difference, but they definitely really do care about things like that.”

On what Tech football players thought about alternatives to Russell Athletic:

“Mixed opinion. Probably Nike would be No. 1, just because Nike is the leader. I’m not sure about if everybody would want to wear Under Armour cleats. Some of those Under Armour cleats aren’t as comfortable, from my experience.”

How often apparel was a topic of conversation within the team:

“It was almost every day. You see, especially during the season, teams will tweet out, ‘We’re wearing these new jerseys this weekend.’ We’re like, dang, look at this jersey this team has.”

Weighing Georgia Tech’s options: Adidas, Nike, Under Armour

RODDY JONES, 2011 football captain

“I think it’s great. Honestly, it’s nothing against and isn’t a slight to the company of Russell. But the fact that you have to have a conversation about whether or not it’s a distraction in recruiting, you’re already behind the 8-ball. Then, from a student-athlete perspective, switching from Russell just shows a level of care and investment and kind of an attitude of just being in this era of college football where it’s something that’s important, that you have to pay attention to. I think that’s great news. And, again, no slight to Russell. They make quality products. It’s just not the right application for it.”

On Russell Athletic uniforms:

“It’s definitely gotten better since I left, but I can tell you from the guys that I knew that played at other schools, seeing their jerseys and then comparing them to jerseys that we had, they just weren’t good. And that’s something that, honestly, during recruiting and stuff, I never paid attention to because it wasn’t big when I was getting recruited. Once I got into school, it’s something that I definitely noticed that there was a difference.”

On a preference between Adidas, Nike and Under Armour:

“The big three are great and the ability to have the same company supply the jerseys, the pants, the socks, the shoes, the undergarments, all of that can only benefit everything.”

On a preference for uniform style:

“I think there’s a way to have a really good-looking, well-fitting, classic uniform. That’s honestly what I would like to see. As much as it pains me to say it, one of the teams that’s done it best is right in our backyard. (Georgia)”

Tech, Russell Athletic partnership coming to an end

SYNJYN DAYS, football, 2011-14

On Under Armour:

“I know they’re very innovative with technology. I think that’d be great for Georgia Tech because Georgia Tech is known for being innovators and changing the dynamics of things. I think that would be a good brand with Georgia Tech just because of what Georgia Tech stands for besides athletics.”

On his preference:

“I would say out of the three, I’d probably go with Nike just because that Nike brand is always going to be outstanding. Nike, it stands the test of time in my eyes. Other brands, they’re nice, don’t get me wrong, but we already have that partnership with Nike. I think moving forward, maybe Under Armour would be a good thing because they’re very innovative. It wouldn’t matter to me. Anything else besides Russell.”

QUINTON STEPHENS, basketball captain 2015-17

“We have a lot of like Nike gear already just as far as shoes and what not. I know Coach (Josh) Pastner is a Nike guy. I think that nowadays, gear does have a lot to play when it comes to recruiting. It’s attractive. I get it. I do. But at the end of the day, who’s really going to notice if your socks make you play better? It’s like, Russell. Whatever. Nike. O.K. It’s cool to look at. So that’s just my opinion, but I’m sure that it’s definitely more attractive to kids now and I understand why.”

On noticing other teams’ uniforms:

“There is that side to it, but then you just want to play them and beat them. So at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter. But I do understand. Playing in Russell was fine. I never saw that it really limited me playing in any kind of way, so I can’t really complain about that.”

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