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Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


When Devin Ellison visited Georgia Tech on an unofficial visit in March, one of the first things he saw was a set of three mannequins. They were dressed in mock-ups of the Yellow Jackets' uniforms and gear that the team will be wearing this fall.

A running back from Jacksonville, Florida, Ellison said coaches told him about the athletic department's impending change from Russell Athletic, "and so when I saw that, I was like, 'Wow.' "

It turns out Ellison is an unabashed Adidas consumer. One of 10 prospects to have committed to Tech's 2019 recruiting class, Ellison likes the Adizero 5-Star cleats because they fit his wide feet and estimated that 75 percent of his wardrobe bears an Adidas logo.

"I don't know," he said. "I just really like it."

So, he's an example of the prospect who would have previously spurned Tech because of its association with Russell Athletic, right?

It's not quite that simple.

"I wouldn't make my decision on the brand," Ellison

said. "It was a plus because I wouldn't be able to find a cleat that really fit my foot if I went to another school. It was in addition to everything else. The main reason was the academics. That was pretty much the whole turning point."

The excitement that the Adidas switch has generated among Tech coaches, athletes and fans is unmistakable, perhaps because it means the end of Tech's association with Russell Athletic as much as anything else. Tech athletes have been looking forward to the chance to have more and perhaps more fashionable gear to wear. (The limited supply of Russell gear was part of their complaints.)

"Oh, man, I cannot wait," quarterback TaQuon Marshall said in April. "I've been talking about it with all the guys. Everybody's really excited about getting Adidas."

How it will impact recruiting is an unknown. However, the impact would seem more nuanced than recruits simply considering or eliminating Tech on the basis of its apparel provider. Last August, when the Adidas deal was announced, coach Paul Johnson said he thought it would be a factor, but not a deciding factor.

"The kind of kids that it'll be a deciding factor for probably aren't going to get in school here," he said. "But it certainly can't hurt. It's got to help."

Two other members of the recruiting class offered perspectives in line with John-son's. Linebacker Chico Bennett of Franklin, Tennessee said that, when he made his visit to campus, coaches were excited about the switch. He said his school, Battle Ground Academy, has a Nike contract, but he is "completely cool" with wearing Adidas. He is excited to see the Adidas offerings, but said Tech's switch didn't color his decision. "Not at all," he said.

Another commit, athlete Jalon Calhoun from Greenville, South Carolina, offered a similar perspective.

"Adidas is a great brand, and Russell is, too," he said. "I'm just here to play ball."

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June 30, 2018


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