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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops says the $110 million allocated for football facility upgrades at Commonwealth Stadium will have a “great impact on our program.” Stoops says the plans “shows the commitment” to football that Kentucky has.
“It’s an exciting time for all of the Big Blue Nation. Exciting for fans, students, for our players. It shows the commitment we have to the football program and our fans,” said Stoops before Saturday’s UK-Texas A&M basketball game. “We are serious about football. The administration is serious about football. It took a tremendous commitment from a lot of pepole to make this happen.”
The timing could not have been better for Stoops since he had a key group of recruits visiting this weekend and attending Saturday’s game. He got to take them into the newly renovated facilities at Rupp Arena to give them a taste of what is to come at Commonwealth Stadium.
“It shows that this is first class,” Stoop said. “It’s great exposure for our players and recruits.”
He says he’s had a “great response” from recruits. Kyle Meadows, a 6-5, 280-pound offensive tackle from Ohio who had offers from Florida State, Michigan State and West Virginia, gave his verbal commitment to the Wildcats Saturday. Rivals.com ranks among the best 50 tackles in the nation. Another Ohio player, lineman Lovell Peterson, said Friday he had also committed to UK.
“I think it’s very important for us to get into Ohio, obviously Southern Ohio being very, very close. We consider that local. Again, with my ties to Northeastern Ohio and really all through Ohio it’s going to be very important to us,” Stoops said. “There’s tremendous football being played in Ohio. We want to treat that as home base. We’re going to work Ohio hard, along with Kentucky and really anything within close proximity to UK.”
The facility improvements could help more recruits decide to commit to Stoops and his staff. When he was hired in December, Stoops said he trusted UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart when he told him facility upgrades were planned.
“Mitch and I did touch on that the first time we spoke. Again, I felt very comfortable with Mitch and I felt his commitment to the program. We did talk about that,” Stoops said. “It wasn’t the primary reason why I came here. I told you all that in the initial press conference, about my belief in this program, getting things done. This certainly helps. Everything Mitch and I talked about is coming true here.”
“I just think anything you do, it’s for the players. Much is placed on the emphasis on recruiting. That’s what helps you, is the players being comfortable and the players having a great facility. As you know, in all of our sports our athletes are here and with us a great deal of time and spend a lot of time in our complex. I think it’s the most important for our players to feel comfortable, to have them in a comfortable environment, with their locker room and just a facility where they can spend some time and feel good.”