Last season, the BYU Cougars inserted themselves into the national college football conversation by putting together a historic 11-1 campaign. They kept that momentum going by having their largest NFL draft class in 20 years, when five Cougars — highlighted by Zach Wilson as the No. 2 pick by the New York Jets — were selected.
If all that wasn’t enough to turn recruits’ heads, BYU this week unveiled its locker room renovations. The project, which was started back in April, couldn’t have been finished at a better time, with the NCAA dead period ending and BYU starting to welcoming recruits to campus this month.
“This is awesome,” junior center James Empey said. “We are super grateful for the staff, administration and school for these renovations. We are blessed to have such a nice place to utilize as we get ready for workouts, practices and games. I liked that they involved us as players and made sure to ask us what we were looking for and what we wanted in a locker room. It was great to have that input in the process. There is so much attention to detail. This is great.”
Here’s what to know about the new locker room:
• It was 17 years in the making: The locker room hadn’t seen any major renovation since the Student Athlete Building opened in 2004. The project was funded by the SAB maintenance endowment fund, which was established prior to the facility’s construction.
• The past is present: The new locker room may be full of modern features, but it has one big detail that pays tribute to BYU teams of the past. Vandy Creations was commissioned to create 23 steel jerseys. Featuring the year the jersey was debuted as the number, each jersey is filled with details of what it looked like when it was used by the Cougars.
• Honoring a legacy: Along one of the many walls, in a glass display, are photos of head coach Kalani Sitake, offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford, running backs coach Harvey Unga and safeties coach Preston Hadley during their days playing for the Cougars. There are also mannequins wearing the uniforms those coaches once donned as players.
• Feel fresh on game day: Tucked away at the end of a row of sinks is a little barber shop corner. “I just think that’s kind of dope,” senior defensive lineman Uriah Leiataua said during a private video tour of the new locker room on BYUSN Right Now.
• An NFL model: The locker room was patterned after the Philadelphia Eagles’ locker room.
• Personalized lockers: When standing in front of their respective locker, each player will see a photo of themselves along with their last name on the top. The graphic opens up to provide storage space for the players’ pads. Directly underneath that, there is a small safe and a small counter space. The seats can be lifted to reveal more storage, along with pull-out drawers on the sides. Each locker has a built-in ventilation system to help with moisture and odor.
• Nike runs the show: Across from the equipment pickup lockers, a large Nike logo, surrounded by cleats and shoes, takes center stage. It’s among the first things visible when entering the locker room and sets the tone for the rest of the facility.
• Nothing left untouched: The entire facility was redone. The football staff locker and alumni locker areas within the facility were also renovated. The players’ locker room even saw its old shuffle board and TVs replaced for newer models.