Two years after merging football and fashion with splashy new football uniforms, Under Armour and Maryland were at it again Thursday night.
The Baltimore-based company unveiled the next iteration of its "Maryland Pride" uniforms, featuring a Maryland-flag-inspired red jersey it says will be impossible for opposing players to grab onto.
The "no grab" technology was the highlight of the "Maryland Pride 2.0" uniform that debuted in a Harbor East ceremony that included Maryland band members and Ravens wide receiver and former Terps star Torrey Smith.
"It took us three years to develop," said Adam Clement, Under Armour’s creative director for team sports. “It's a proprietary fabric, so it's exclusive to our company. What's unique about this fabric from a football standpoint is it does not stretch. It's impossible to grab."
A European rugby team has worn the fabric, known as Armourgrid, for four years, but it is only now making its debut in football.
Maryland will wear the uniforms for the first time Saturday against West Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium.
The helmets, which also evoke the state flag's Calvert and Crossland coats of arms, are hand-painted and airbrushed to create a sense of motion. "MARYLAND" appears in gold lettering on the backs of the helmets. There are 200 helmets, each identified individually by a barely visible number on the back.
Smith had left Maryland by the time Under Armour created the original "Pride" uniforms for the 2011 season opener. Those gaudy uniforms, which debuted to mixed reviews, generated national buzz for the school. "We took the country by surprise," Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said Thursday night.
Smith has remained close to the university and said he wanted to be present for the new uniforms’ unveiling. As artifical smoke cleared and the awning at Under Armour's Harbor East store was raised to reveal a model wearing the new uniform, the Ravens wide receiver expressed envy.
"I wish you all could customize mine so I could wear it on Sunday, because those DB's like to grab," Smith said.
When the model held out his palms, gloves together, they spelled out "MARYLAND."
"You all do all the cool stuff when I leave [Maryland]," Smith said. "I know how 99 percent of the players feel. You feel a lot better when you’re in a sweet uniform."