On this very special edition of the Big Blue Insider we spent the first hour live from Commonwealth Stadium at the for the unveiling of the statue of Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg the four men who broke the color barrier in SEC football. Dick Gabriel was joined by former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard who has written articles about the four men being honored, the man who created the statue, sculptor J Brett Grill to find out how he made the statue. Also UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart speaks on what this means for the school. Then former Kentucky running back Anthony White sits in to talk about what this statue means to him and how he learned about the history of these trailblazers. In the second hour we hear from one of the men honored Nate Northington. Northington was the first African-American to play in a Southeastern Conference football game. Also Paul Karem a former UK football player who was instrumental in getting these men the honor they deserved.
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From UK Athletics
Unveiling of Statue Honoring SEC Trailblazers
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The statue honors the four players who broke the color barrier in Southeastern Conference football – Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg.
The statue commemorates the playing careers and lives of the first four African-American football players in SEC history. It will be located on a pedestal in the plaza between the new Kentucky Football Training Facility and Commonwealth Stadium, positioned to remind fans, coaches and players of the incredible contributions made by Northington, Page, Hackett and Hogg to the University of Kentucky, the SEC and college football on a national level.
“No four players in our program’s history have better demonstrated the values of courage, determination and selflessness than Nate, Greg, Wilbur and Houston,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “The pride we take in calling them Kentucky Wildcats is matched only by our gratitude for what they have done for this university and for college football in the South. We are proud to show that appreciation with the dedication of this statue that will occupy a prominent place at the home of Kentucky football.”
Cast in bronze, the statue features the four pioneers in uniform standing side by side. It was designed and sculpted by J. Brett Grill over the course of a year and after interviews with the three living trailblazers; Page’s brother, Melvin; and teammates of the four. The statue is to scale, with the tallest figure standing approximately seven-and-a-half feet tall. It is 11 feet wide at its base and four feet in depth, weighing around 3,500 pounds.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Northington and Page’s arrival on the UK campus in 1966. Hackett and Hogg would join them a year later. Northington made his varsity debut on Sept. 23, 1967 against Indiana before breaking the SEC’s color barrier a week later when UK hosted Ole Miss on Sept. 30, 1967. Tragically, Page – Northington’s close friend – passed away just a day prior on Sept. 29 after suffering a neck injury in a practice accident. Hackett and Hogg would carry on Northington and Page’s legacy, with Hackett becoming the SEC’s first African-American team captain in any sport in 1969.