Kentucky football continues to make up for lost time when it comes to honoring four men — Wilbur Hackett, Greg Page, Nate Northington and Houston Hogg — who broke the color barrier not only at UK but also in the Southeastern Conference.
“Every year we have Wilbur and the guys come back and talk to our team, explain the history, how proud we are of the four players that did make a stand and start and break the color barrier in the SEC,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “That’s something that we should embrace here in Kentucky. We’re proud of those guys. It’s the right way to honor them. We’re excited about that, our players getting to know those guys more and more every year.”
Kentucky will place a statue honoring the four pioneers outside the new training facility and will have a dedication ceremony Sept. 22 two days before hosting South Carolina.
Hackett and Northington were both at UK’s Fan Day signing copies of the preseason schedule poster that honors their legacy.
“I thought it was appropriate because they’re on the poster and we’re recognizing those guys and it was good for our fans to be able to see them, spend some time with them,” Stoops, who also invited other former UK players back to spend time with his team before and after Fan Day, said.
Stoops also appreciated UK fans who came to support the team after four straight losing seasons.
“It was a great turnout. I love having them here watching practice,” Stoops said.
Offensive lineman Drake Jackson of Woodford County is one of the high-profile players in Kentucky’s freshman class. He likely will play center this year and that means he’ll get a chance to learn from senior Jon Toth, the player many consider the most valuable player on the UK team.
“The biggest thing I have learned from him already is how to be a college football player. Meaning how to conduct yourself, how to sit in the meeting rooms, how to lift, how to recover, how to do all those things,” Jackson said. “He has been a great example not only for me, but everybody. There have been a lot of other guys who have set great examples. But Toth is definitely one to look up to.
“You know what is expected. Sometimes you might think you are doing it right, but you are not. You might think stretching after a workout is enough to recover or you pull a groin and think sitting out a day is okay. Toth really teaches you how to be a professional and conduct yourself and how to be a college football player and how to take care of yourself.”
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