Before the Aggies take to the field, they'll have to get ready. That means getting their uniform, pads, helmet, gloves, socks and about a dozen other things they need to play the game. All of those things are dolled out each game week in the locker room by the Texas A&M University Athletic Equipment Department.
A small group of people is responsible for making sure the Aggies look their best each and every time they take the field, whether they play on the road or at Kyle Field. It's a monumental task filled with pride and carried out with perfection.
"We're pretty much responsible for everything you see on the players and coaches," said Matt Watson. He's the head equipment manager at Texas A&M. For 17 years, been making sure the Aggies look their best on Saturdays.
"That entails the helmets, jerseys, shoulder pads, shoes, Coach Sumlin's visor. Anything that involves out football team from an appearal stand point and equipment stand point. We're in charge of that," he explained.
Matt knows these players take their gear seriously.
"Over the years we've had guys that have to have a certain shirt to wear or they're used to wearing a certain girdle or a certain pair of socks. Coaches are the same way too. Some of those guys, as you get into a season, you know last year we were working on at double digit win season and so once you get into that and you're winning week after week you can't help but start doing the same thing over and over again and getting a little superstitious," said Watson.
In the week leading up to a game, Matt and his crew work hard on gathering equipment for nearly 100 players, repairing and cleaning helmets, checking shoulder pads and jerseys. Just so it can all be banged up during a game.
"The helmets can get pretty banged up. Sometimes we'll rip a jersey in the middle of a game. The stuff is really built to take heavy impact and stuff, so everything holds up pretty well, but every know and then we have a catastrophic rip or something and you know we'll adjust from there," said Watson.
The crew has to be flexible and responsive, but that doesn't always mean they don't pull surprises. One of the biggest was when the Aggies appeared in all black uniforms for the Mississippi State Game. It was a special moment for Matt and his crew, but especially for the players.
Almost 6 months of planning paid off.
"Less than maybe 10 people knew about it, right up until the week of the game. Then, of course, as we got closer we had to let a few more people in on it. We were really tight lipped. Worked on a lot of it off-site, off campus, and you know was real rewarding when the guys came in and saw and then of course winning the game was the ulitmate reward," said Watson.
So, we asked Matt if there was anything special planned for this season.
"If we had any, I couldn't tell ya. You'll just have to stay tuned and see," he laughed.
Matt and the guys keep the team looking sharp regardless of where they are playing, but he did say this year's 4, 2, 4, 2 home and away schedule worked in thier favor. It meant that the first four weeks they could focus on one set of uniforms without switching back and forth.