LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 2016 Kentucky football poster was unveiled to members of the team at a special meeting last Thursday, July 7. The design of the poster is modeled after a statue honoring the four UK players who integrated Southeastern Conference football in the late 1960s -- Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg.
Northington and Hackett were in attendance as the poster was unveiled at a team meeting following early-morning workouts on Thursday, getting a standing ovation from the team when they were introduced. Both groundbreaking former Wildcats addressed the team and shared their perspective as two of the first African-American SEC football players.
“When you watch the game today and you come here and look and see the diversity, I never would have thought this would happen at UK or much less the SEC,” Northington told the team. “We’re very, very proud we were able to do that for the state, for ourselves, for our family. We’re very proud of you all, very proud of this university because you are part of history. You are part of the university that made a stand and made a difference in the culture of the state, the South and the country.”
Northington was referencing the theme of the poster, which he and Hackett also saw for the first time along with the team. The message struck him as appropriate given what he and his three teammates did five decades ago.
“We just believed it was time that Kentucky made a stand,” Northington said. “So ‘Make a Stand’ is very, very unique and correct because we did make a stand. We felt like it was the right thing to do. The time was right.”
Hackett encouraged the current UK team to carry on the that legacy.
“You have an opportunity change history, to make history, change what Kentucky is doing in football,” said Hackett, the first African-American team captain in any SEC sport. “I’m so glad, I’m so proud to be a part of this. Fifty years ago we came here. And this year I want to see you guys make a difference. Make that commitment to change what is happening. Make this team be the team that changed the course of Kentucky football.”
The poster honoring Northington, Page, Hackett and Hogg -- which will be available to the public on Saturday, July 16 -- features four players from this year’s team in poses modeled after the statue currently being sculpted. The poster is meant to pay tribute to the way the four trailblazers paved the way for what Kentucky football is today. The 2016 season marks 50 years since Northington and Page enrolled at UK in 1966.
The statue will be located in front of the new UK football practice facility currently under construction. It will be unveiled at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 22. Fittingly, UK will host South Carolina in its first SEC game two days later and celebrate Northington becoming the first African-American to play in an SEC game on Sept. 30, 1967.
The poster will be available for free through UK Athletics’ partner Kroger in stores while supplies last, including locations throughout the state of Kentucky. Limited quantities are available in each store, so fans are recommended to pick up their posters as early as possible after they become available on July 16. The poster will be also available in the Joe Craft Welcome Center starting on Monday, July 18.
Kentucky will open the 2016 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium against Southern Miss. Season, single-game and mini-pack tickets are available now at UKFootballTix.com.