Cincinnati Bengals tight end and former Ardmore standout Jermaine Gresham is giving back to the Tigers.
Ardmore High School announced Tuesday that Gresham has donated $30,000 to the Ardmore football program for new uniforms for the 2014-2015 school year. Gresham, a 2006 Ardmore alumnus, was an All-American tight end at the University of Oklahoma and has been a two-time Pro Bowl selection in three seasons with the Bengals.
Ardmore athletic director/head football coach Douglas Wendel was informed of Gresham plan to give back in the spring. According to Wendel, the donation will be used specifically for high school home, away and alternate uniforms.
"In spring, he (Gresham) visited with coach (Grant) Naylor, coach (Mark) Linney and coach (Josh) Newby," Wendel said. "The idea and the desire was initiated by him.
"It was a two-, three-, four-month process. Early on, he didn't want anyone to know about it. I kept it confidential out of respect for him."
Wendel said that with the rise in numbers in the Ardmore high school and middle school programs, additional jerseys were a necessity. Ardmore will field three teams at the high school level this season.
"For the first time in a long time, we're gonna field three teams this year," Wendel said. "This allows us to bump that varsity set down and now we'll have three sets of uniforms for our kids (in 2014).
"It's certainly a need for our program. We will have, within a week, 80 kids in the program and we have 90 plus out for middle school. It certainly came at a good time."
Wendel said he still wants to honor Gresham sometime this year, possibly during basketball season. Gresham and the Bengals will play their second preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
Gresham wants to buy "top-of-the-line Nike uniforms for the team," according to Wendel. Ardmore would have used the donation funds this season, but Nike's cutoff date for orders had already passed.
The Tigers are, however, going to have a new look in 2014.
"We'll certainly honor his request, get the best we can get," Wendel said. "We're excited about it.
"To me, it says a lot about coach Newby, coach Linney and coach Naylor, and the fact that he cares about the players we have now."
Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD