[Source] - Stoops found the nearest empty office and motioned for director of sports medicine Jim Madaleno to join him inside. What Madaleno told Stoops left the coach's head spinning. What they thought was a simple blood blister for second-year linebacker Josh Paschal turned out to be malignant melanoma, and it was potentially life-threatening.
Stoops was shocked as he left Madaleno and made a beeline for his office at the end of the hall. But, before he could reach it, someone else told him, "You need to go see John." And eight doors from where he stood, offensive line coach John Schlarman broke more news. That discomfort he'd been feeling? That indigestion he'd told him about? Well, the doctors had run some tests and it was more serious than they'd imagined: He had cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the bile ducts. It was too far along to remove with surgery.
I've talked about Josh Paschal before and his battle against cancer. But the other story, which is awesome to see get some attention here, is offensive line coach John Schlarman. He's one of the best offensive coaches in the country, turning Kentucky into one of the best rushing teams in the country, and doing it all while battling an incredibly rare form of cancer.
Obviously Paschal drew most of the attention when it was announced just under two years ago. Paschal was a 4-star recruit from Maryland who picked Kentucky over Notre Dame and Penn State and had a strong freshman year with 3.5 sacks and playing in all 13 games.
He was able to battle back and just three months later started a college football game. Let me say that again. The guy, a sophomore in college where you should be worrying about what party to hit up and how to keep your playing time, battled cancer and started a college football game for an SEC team that won 10 games. That's fucking awesome.
His battle was documented in an awesome video here:
It's absolutely incredible stuff. He made his way completely back last season and was named a team captain and 3.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. At the same time, Schlarman showed up for every practice, every game and turned Kentucky's offensive line into one of the best in the country. I love this story about him, ultimate football guy.
He couldn't recall a single missed practice. There was that one time when Coach ran to the sideline and threw up in a trash can, but he was right back running the drill seconds later as if nothing happened.
Unless you were looking closely and you'd been around him for years, you might not know anything was wrong. The only time he missed a work obligation was because he was in Houston getting treatment. In 2018, his line allowed the third-fewest sacks in the SEC. Last season, it helped produce the No. 1 rushing offense in the conference.
I highly suggest reading the entire breakdown and watching that video of Paschal. Their stories should be inspiration for everyone. Sometimes we forget that these guys, especially college athletes, are just college kids. They shouldn't have to deal with this shit, no one really should.
Go Cats and let me be even louder here, fuck cancer.