LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The old recruiting lounge at the University of Louisville’s Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex was a rather plain room, an open space where tables could be set up, meals served or other furniture brought in for various other functions or purposes.
The room isn’t called the recruiting lounge anymore. Louisville Athletics Director Vince Tyra took reporters through a tour of the program’s new players lounge in the same space, but don’t be fooled: It’s very much about recruiting.
For starters, Louisville is very much moving to take advantage of the Legend of Lamar, the kid from south Florida who came from off the radar to Heisman winner in this very same building. You can’t miss Lamar – on any level.
Walk through the front door and you see a new “Lamar Leap” mannequin, live size and leaping toward the door. Up the stairs, before entering the lounge, you see Jackson’s Heisman Trophy, atop a new podium whose base is Jackson’s number, 8. Through the lounge’s door, the program pays tribute to Jackson with his actual locker, complete with jerseys, helmet and cleats.
A look at Louisville football's new players' lounge at Cardinal Stadium.
“Lamar is a part of our legacy and always will be, being a Heisman winner,” Tyra said. “We’d love to make space for another one, but we have Lamar downstairs and upstairs and want to recognize what he’s done. I think it’s meaningful to the players. It represents a lot of great things, but one of the teams he was on represents as close as we’ve been to competing on the national championship level, and what we aspire to get back to.”
Beyond that, the remake of the lounge has plenty of “wow” factor. It may not have a slide like Clemson’s football facility or sleep pods in the locker room like LSU, but it also was a much more modest project – a $1.5 million athletically funded project approved by the university board and completed in about 30 days, just in time for the opening game, and a huge recruiting weekend with 75 prospects on campus.
The lounge features resting pods, a small theater, common areas with plenty of televisions and a gaming area with a video football game, ping pong table, pool table and foosball table.
Tyra said response from players and recruits has been positive.
“We got the Ls up on this from the kids for sure,” he said. “We’re excited about this and excited to unveil it. And while there’s some more high-tech things you’re seeing around college sports – you’ve seen some things in the SEC – we were thinking about what was functional for our kids on a day-to-day basis. . . . We wanted a space that was comfortable for them, that let them have some privacy if they wanted to come here and study, or things to do if they wanted to do more communal things.”
In a corner was a photo taken of coach Scott Satterfield with the 21 members of this season’s U of L team that have earned degrees, and Tyra said that a place will be established in the lounge to note the program’s academic legacy.
“As you can see, there’s been a pretty dramatic change in this space,” Tyra said. “We spent a lot of time talking to coach Satterfield and his staff about what they want, but I would tell you we spent more time talking to players about what they want, as well. We wanted something functional and practical, where they would want to spend time in the facility ... I think from the feedback we’ve gotten that we hit that mark.”
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