The Meridian Star
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No, East Mississippi is not one of the top fashion areas in the world — yet. But, with 72 uniform options, including two new helmets, East Mississippi Community College is certainly establishing itself as the pièce de résistance among JUCO wardrobes this fall.
Last week against Pearl River, the Lions came out dressed head-to-toe in black, featuring their black, skull-and-bones helmet made famous by legendary head coach Bob “Bull” (Cylone) Sullivan back when helmets were still made of leather.
“It gives players confidence,” EMCC quarterback Dontreal Pruitt said of the uniforms. “It makes players feel good while they are on the field.”
While players embrace each combination, Pruitt said the all black seem to be the biggest hit among players.
“We got this new all gray that we haven’t worn yet, but I think mainly the favorite might be all black,” he said.
Pruitt, who also favors the all black, said the uniform even adds a bit to his game.
“Black is really one of my favorite colors, and if I can wear it on the field, that just makes me feel a little better,” he said. “It just gives me more confidence.”
This week the Lions are expected to debut their new red helmet with a chrome stripe down the middle and chrome lion on the side. The new headgear will be coupled with an all-gray uniform which is also a new option this year.
Choosing what to wear on gameday has become such a event, the decision has even worked its way into the Lions game-week routine.
“I just let the kids pick those out,” head coach Buddy Stephens said. “I let some of our team leaders sort out what we are going to wear, and we give them options based on what the home team gets to choose.”
While the new uniforms are a long way off from the weathered black-leather caps past Lions buckled on before running into trees at practice, the new duds symbolize an added sense of swagger and confidence brought in under Stephen’s watch. Since taking over at EMCC in 2008, Stephens has brought a new-age, energetic style to the program, often blaring music at practice and relating to players on a more personal level.
“I think it’s fun,” Stephens said. “Alabama is Alabama, you are not going to change that. But there are some places you can go and you can change things, and it’s really cool. You can have fun with it. In today’s day and time, we are traditional in our values and our beliefs, but we are also not traditional in that we enjoy having fun.”
The method has proven to be a success, as the Lions are 45-10 under his tenure. No matter what combination EMCC comes out in on Thursday nights, one thing is certain — winning is certainly the Lions’ best look. And, as long as those uniforms keep on bringing wins, expect EMCC to keep adding to its ever-growing wardrobe.
What the team should come out in next is more of a question for fashionistas than football fans. However, EMCC supporters certainly hope the Lions have something picked out to go with gold come December.