With a modernized locker room, BYU is always looking to the past for the future.
Last season, the BYU Cougars joined the national college football conversation with a historic 11-1 campaign. They kept that momentum going by having their biggest NFL draft class in 20 years, when five Cougars – highlighted by Zach Wilson as the No.2 pick for the New York Jets – were selected.
If all that wasn’t enough to turn rookies’ heads, BYU unveiled its locker room renovations this week. The project, which began in April, couldn’t have been completed at a better time, with the end of the NCAA and BYU time-out starting to welcome recruits to campus this month.
“It’s awesome,” said junior center James Empey. “We are very grateful to the staff, administration and the school for these renovations. We are fortunate to have such a great place to use as we get ready for practice, practice 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 dressing room. It was great to have that input into the process. There is so much attention to detail. It’s good.”
Here’s what you need to know about the new locker room:
• It was 17 years in the making: The locker room had not undergone any major renovations since the opening of the Student Athlete Building in 2004. The project was funded by the SAB Maintenance Endowment Fund, established prior to the construction of the facility.
• The past is present: The new locker room might be full of modern features, but it has one big detail that pays homage to BYU teams of the past. Vandy Creations was commissioned to create 23 steel jerseys. Featuring the jersey’s launch year as a number, each jersey is filled with details of what it looked like when used by the Cougars.
• Honor a legacy: Along one of the many walls, in a display case, are photos of head coach Kalani Sitake, offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, cornerback coach Jernaro Gilford, running back coach Harvey Unga and safety coach Preston Hadley during their days playing for the Cougars. There are also models wearing the uniforms that these coaches once wore as players.
• Feel fresh on match day: Tucked away at the end of a row of sinks is a small hair salon area. “I just think it’s a little dope,” senior defensive lineman Uriah Leiataua said during a private video tour of the new locker room on BYUSN now.
• An NFL model: The locker room was modeled after the Philadelphia Eagles locker room.
• Personalized lockers: When standing in front of their respective locker, each player will see a photo of them with their last name at the top. The graph opens to provide storage space for player pads. Directly below there is a small safe and a small counter space. The seats can be lifted up to reveal more storage, as well as sliding drawers on the sides. Each locker has a built-in ventilation system to help remove moisture and odors.
• Nike runs the show: In front of the equipment collection lockers, a large Nike logo, surrounded by crampons and shoes, takes center stage. It is one of the first things you see when you enter the locker room and sets the tone for the rest of the establishment.
• Nothing has been touched: The whole installation has been redone. The football staff locker and alumni lockers within the school have also been renovated. The players’ locker room has even seen its old shuffleboard and televisions replaced with newer models.