By LARRY VAUGHT
Never again can Kentucky football use the lack of facilities as an excuse for not competing with other teams in the Southeastern Conference.
Media members got a look Thursday at the $45 million Kentucky Football Training Center where players will eat, train, study, practice and recover.
The 100,000 square foot building is also designed for another purpose — to impress recruits and convince them to become future Wildcats.
The new facility is next to Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Field House.
There is a 15,000 square foot weight room that has a sound system that can shake the building. It has so many free weight and specialty weight machines and then there is a second floor cardio deck. The training room adjoins the weight room and has two exam rooms, hot and cold tubs (don’t be surprised to see former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard in the cold pool in the future), underwater treadmill and X-ray machine.
The dining room/training table is headed by an executive chef and outside there is a Gatorade Bar where players will have constant access to shakes, drinks and snacks.
The new locker room will be used both for practice — two grass fields are next to the building — and games. The lockers have players’ photos and names and are grouped by position. But get this — each locker has ventilation, heating and air conditioning design to do away with traditional locker room smells.
There’s a barber shop — yes, a barber shop — there and the players’ lounge has video games, Ping-Pong, pool table and table shuffleboard.
The team and position meeting rooms on the second floor are state of the art. The coaches have offices that overlook the practice fields and have plenty of space along with all the bells and whistles when it comes to technology. Coach Mark Stoops has three televisions, a bathroom and shower in his spacious office.
The hallways are filled with pictures of former UK stars and on the first floor there is a spot to find UK players in the NFL and information about them as well as information on UK players who have played in the Super Bowl.
Former UK defensive lineman Ricky Lumpkin was working out in the weight room getting ready to report to the Baltimore Colts training camp next week.
“I come back and work out and see all the changes to the stadium and training facility,” Lumpkin said. “They basically have blown it up and started over like I once said they should do. There’s no more excuses. These guys (players) have everything they need. I would have loved to have had all this.
“NFL teams, expect maybe two or three, don’t have anything like this. I’m not sure any college team can have anything better. This is state of the art in every way.”