AUBURN, Ala. – Like a child on Christmas morning, Derick Hall walked excitedly from room to room Thursday when he and his Auburn football teammates toured the Woltosz Football Performance Center for the first time.
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“These guys having the opportunity to move in here, grow academically, develop football-wise as a player, it’s nothing short of amazing,” the senior All-SEC linebacker said. “For it to be here for the guys, it’s great.”
With their phones documenting each discovery, the Tigers journeyed through the facility.
“You know what time it is,” quarterback Robby Ashford said, jogging to his next stop. “This changed the whole game.”
“Home, sweet home,” said offensive lineman Jeremiah Wright, sampling the 95,300-square-foot indoor practice facility.
“Y’all are in for a treat. Let’s rock and roll,” said interim head coach Carnell Williams at the tour’s outset.
The 233,000-square-foot facility is built on 12 acres, featuring two natural grass outdoor fields and an indoor turf field.
“I might come back and play!” Williams exclaimed as he entered the 25,000-square-foot Creel Family Player Development Lab, which is “about the size of the downtown Publix,” according to Gregory Forthofer, Auburn Athletics manager of capital programs.
There’s space for sports medicine, equipment, recovery, a 3-D printer, even a barber shop.
“It’s state of the art,” said Forthofer, who visited a dozen college and professional venues during the project’s planning phase. “I’ve seen NFL facilities, a lot of college facilities, and I know I’m biased because I’m an Auburn guy, but it’s right up there.
“So many people working together all on the same page to make this happen. It’s years of planning, vision and healthy conflict. When you’re doing it for Auburn, it’s easy to identify the key characteristics of Auburn football such as toughness that we tried to implement in this building.”
Forthofer recently gave a tour of the performance center to members of the Auburn Football Letterman Club.
“This is your shoulders we are building this on,” he told the former players.
One of those former players, Williams, now leads the program after being elevated to interim coach last week.
“I’m so happy for these young men,” Williams said. “Anybody who had anything to do with this building, from our donors to Gregory, to see these kids’ faces, I’m ecstatic.”
The football program will move in after the season, but the Woltosz Football Performance Center is already generating excitement among fans and student-athletes, past, present and future.
“If a kid walks through these doors and sees this facility, they have every resource to be successful along with a big, beautiful building,” Williams said. “We’re not going to forget what makes Auburn great, along with the people, with this beautiful building. Watch out college football!”
Seeking ways to differentiate Auburn from other football-only facilities recruits encounter, Forthofer says Auburn’s project team was tasked with building “something that was Auburn, and this is what we came up with.”
Like the Auburn football team, the new facility gets tested this weekend when prospective student-athletes make official visits when the Tigers host Texas A&M.
“We may go seven for seven,” Coach Cadillac said.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer