Cheeky Messages

In college football, glare protection is getting personal
December 05, 2005

Reggie Bush, USC RB
With the popularity of stick-on eye-black strips in recent years, the era of simple grease or burnt-cork smears is all but over. Now, the Heisman favorite is one of a growing group of NCAA footballers--including Texas' Nate Jones (above)--who use the strips for more than glare reduction. Bush inscribes his strips with either "619," the area code for Spring Valley, Calif., his hometown, or with "S-E," for Spring Valley's southeast San Diego County location. Says Bush, "It's my way of saying hi to everybody back home."

Brigham Harwell, UCLA DT
The sophomore first wore his school's logo in his eye black in a 41-24 blowout of then No. 21 Oklahoma on Sept. 17 and hasn't gone a game without it since. "[UCLA] is my home. It's my family," says Harwell. "I leave it on until I go home after the game."

Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech QB
"I felt it would be a different touch," says Vick, who began wearing his uniform number under his eyes this year. "I hadn't noticed that other players had done it." Vick's mates haven't followed his lead; he's still the only Hokie with an inscription on his eye black.

Sinorice Moss, Miami WR
Miami's equipment staff gave Moss eye-black patches emblazoned with the school's "U" at a practice last year. "That same day everyone wanted them," he recalls. Now more than half a dozen Canes sport the strips in games. Says Moss, "Who wouldn't want to wear the U?"