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In demand: UGA Knowshon Moreno jerseys.


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In demand: UGA Knowshon Moreno jerseys

No one had No. 24 last season; now they’re everywhere

By CHIP TOWERS

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Athens — Jeremy Johnson knows exactly how popular Georgia tailback Knowshon Moreno is. In fact, he’s up to his eyeballs in Moreno.

Specifically, Moreno’s No. 24 jerseys.

Johnson has racks of them at the UGA Bookstore he manages, just in time for Saturday’s opener against Ga. Southern.

It’s the holy grail of the 2008 season, Nike’s authentic black No. 24 Georgia jersey (retail $150). There’s the more affordable replica black 24s ($60). Johnson also has red 24s and white 24s, in both adult and kids sizes, of course. And, for that little lady Bulldog in your life, there’s the pink and white No. 24 Georgia jersey.

“Those are really starting to take off,” Johnson said Thursday. “Apparently the ladies really love him, too.”

Some might say Johnson has gone mad for Moreno. But he’d say you weren’t around last November, after Moreno ran wild against Auburn in the “blackout game,” when every other person who walked into his store was asking for a “black 24 Knowshon jersey,” and Johnson couldn’t provide one.

Nobody could.

As the primary apparel contractor for the Georgia Athletic Association, only Nike — after consultation with the Bulldogs’ brass, of course — determines what numbers of what jerseys get manufactured and they decide that in the first two months of the year, when no one was forecasting Moreno’s breakout season.

Generally Nike selects only about four or five numbers for production and one of those is always Herschel Walker’s 34, according to Alan Thomas, Georgia’s associate athletics director for external affairs.

Last season those numbers included 6 (Kregg Lumpkin) and 20 (Thomas Brown) and a lot of 7s, but no 24s.

“That was the challenge last year,” said Howard Taylor, vice president for East Coast sales and operations for Follett stores, and Johnson’s boss. Follett owns the UGA bookstore, both FTX bookstores in Athens and 14 concession stands in and around Sanford Stadium.

“They didn’t give us any 24s before last season and we’re at the mercy of Nike. We went to the last game and got them right before Christmas basically before we got them in stock.”

That was only after a plea from Thomas to Nike executive Jayson Rambo in an email sent Nov. 12, the Monday after the Auburn game.

“This year they added 24 to our options right from Day One,” Taylor said. “That’s the difference this year.”

So now they’ve got them “into the thousands,” according to Johnson. And he’s concerned that he may not have enough.

“Knowshon was on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, we sold out of that; he was on the cover of Dawgtime Magazine, we sold out of that,” Johnson said. “We’ve already had people wearing unauthorized ‘Knowshon for Heisman’ T-shirts coming through here on Picture Day. I mean he is wildly popular.”

Johnson said it’s unlike anything he’s seen.

“From my experience, the only thing that even comes close is the combined clout of the two Davids [Greene and Pollack],” said Johnson, who has been at the bookstore since 2003. “But this guy is even more popular. And it seems to be with all age groups, men and women. He’s the real deal, a unique phenomenon.”

Moreno claims he hasn’t noticed, even though he was at the bookstore only a few weeks ago to pick up his textbooks for fall semester.

“I saw the [number] 7 ones,” he said of teammate Matthew Stafford’s jersey. “I didn’t see the 24s.”

Of course, all this retail madness provides no trickle-down economics for Moreno. NCAA rules forbid college players from being compensated outside their tuition, lodging, books and medical care.

Moreno said that’s enough for him.

“It’s just exciting to have your number out there,” he said. “The main thing really is just to come to school and get your education. That’s what you’re getting paid for. That’s a great exchange, really.”

Actually, jersey sales are a very small portion of what the athletic department’s revenues from royalties, according to Thomas. Nike and other apparel manufacturers pay Georgia only a portion of the wholesale price of items sold through the Collegiate Licensing Company, which monitors the sales of all of Georgia’s copyrighted merchandise.

Thomas said “team apparel” royalties are up 83 percent over this time last year but account for 1.8 percent of UGA’s overall royalties. Revenue generated from entities such as EA Sports video games are in another stratosphere, he said.

Meanwhile, UGA could not answer the AJC’s freedom of information request for an accounting of its overall jersey sales. Thomas could report that 301 “24” jerseys have been sold off the website www.georgiadogs.com since July 1. The “tackle-twill” 24 is the 11th and the replica black 24 is the 12th most-purchased item sold in the month of August (well behind the top-selling black spirit towel and at least three T-shirts from wins over Florida, Auburn and in the Sugar Bowl). That total doesn’t include jerseys sold to retail outlets. Those numbers should be far greater, Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Moreno vows to remain humble. And Johnson, well, he’ll remain paranoid. He already got one scare regarding his coveted 24s.

“On G-Day [Moreno] wore another number,” Johnson said. “Here we had all these purchase orders for the No. 24. The way Nike is you have to get your orders in real early. … So we were kind of panicking. We were happy to hear it was just a change in honor of an injured teammate.”

That’d be No. 26 Tony Wilson. He’s well now.

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You could have went to the Sports Authority on Cobb Parkway and got one. They had the black, red and white for $60 of course. They had a bunch of them there. I grabbed a UGA Thomas Brown nike replica red jersey for $9.47 tonight while I was out. I couldnt believe they dropped them down that far.

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You could have went to the Sports Authority on Cobb Parkway and got one. They had the black, red and white for $60 of course. They had a bunch of them there. I grabbed a UGA Thomas Brown nike replica red jersey for $9.47 tonight while I was out. I couldnt believe they dropped them down that far.

yeah i was looking for the $75 dollar jersey in black for #24..

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Yeah I went looking for #24 jersey for moreno, went to 8 stores in the metro atlanta area and finally found one, but they were telling me they were selling out of the jerseys.. He is a special player.

got mine at sports fan attic in kennesaw, got one of the first ones they got off the truck! got lucky i got there when they were delivered. B)

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got mine at sports fan attic in kennesaw, got one of the first ones they got off the truck! got lucky i got there when they were delivered. B)

yep that's where I found the moreno #24 jersey at the sport fan attic at barrett parkway. they had ordered like 35 on sunday and were down to 5 when I got there a few days later.

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yep that's where I found the moreno #24 jersey at the sport fan attic at barrett parkway. they had ordered like 35 on sunday and were down to 5 when I got there a few days later.

should have bought the white one at the same time, but, decided to wait, now, cannot find one. <_< guess another trip to kennesaw is in order

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I need to get me one. I saw a black 24 jersey with "Heisman" on the back today. He's definitely the fan favorite. He gets the loudest cheer during the intros. (obviously)

stafford and moreno IMO are more popular than pollack and greene right now, but if they aren't they rival those two popularity among dawg fans.

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Yeah and that's saying a lot. I was surprised how big a cheer Ellerbe got. The hardcore fans know how good he is, but he isn't a guy mentioned a whole lot. At least I don't hear a lot about him.

yeah i don't hear much about him even though he is one of the best linebackers in the sec.. he did make the all-sec preseason team so others know his talent. it's great when they get up for a mlb.. understanding his importance.

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