Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett, and Houston Hogg will each receive a statue outside of Commonwealth Stadium – the university announced this weekend.
Page and Northington (who were inducted into UK’s Hall of Fame this Friday) became the Wildcats’ first black players in 1967. Tragically, Page died after an injury he received in practice, and Northington had to leave the team in his grief. However, he urged his fellow teammates Hackett and Hogg to remain in school, and they became the first black players to finish their careers at Kentucky.
With some supporters fighting for recognition for almost 20 years, this honor has been a long time coming:
“I keep thinking I’m going to wake up from some kind of dream today,” said Paul Karem, a former Cats quarterback and longtime crusader to give those pioneers their due. “We started trying to get the guys recognized appropriately probably 20 years ago and it just sort of died out. But this latest effort has been going on about three years.”
Not only did they pave the way at UK, Northington was also the first black player in the SEC, and Hackett became the first black captain in the league’s history.
It’s great to see these guys – who opened the door for so many others – finally receiving this honor. Well done, UK.