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Adversity hits Stoops, Wildcats prior to the beginning of fall workouts

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops shares news of health issues that are affecting his team going into fall camp during the team’s Media Day Friday at Kroger Field. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

In what was supposed to be day of celebrating the dawn of a new season, Mark Stoops is asking for thoughts and prayers for one of his players and one of his assistant coaches going into fall camp.

Sophomore defensive lineman Josh Paschal is battling a malignant melanoma on his right foot and offensive line coach John Schlarman is dealing with an undisclosed health issue.

It wasn’t the way Stoops envisioned opening his sixth Media Day at Kentucky.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I open that way,” he said. “I just felt the need. It’s very important and I felt the need to address that (with the media).”

Paschal had skin lesions removed from his foot late last month and had another procedure performed earlier this week after learning of his initial diagnosis.

Stoops said Paschal’s family wanted to be transparent about the issue and doesn’t want anyone to “dive into this anymore.”

“They wanted to be open about this so there was no speculation,” Stoops said. “They also want this to be a reminder for people to pay close attention to any changes in their skin and if so, to be evaluated.”

Since initial diagnosis, the Kentucky coaching staff and the players have rallied around Pascal with open arms.

“Within our family, out football family have been very supportive of Josh and his family, they are very strong people and they are doing the best they can in this situation and we’ll help Josh along the way.”

Pascal responded to the well wishes he received with a message on Twitter following the announcement by Stoops.

“(I) appreciate all of the love, support (and) prayers,” he said. “God has a plan for me and this is just part of it. I’ll be back.”

Schlarman is undergoing tests to determine his undisclosed diagnosis and will be active at the start of fall camp. Stoops said Schlarman is “still coaching with us.” Stoops is “very close to both if this families” and is lending his support, while preparing his team for the upcoming season.

“We will be supportive and be a family, just much like you would, you know, and we will be there for them anyway we can, be but we’ll continue to do the work that we have to do,” he said. “And they both want it that way.”

Stoops isn’t sure how much time Schlarman could potentially miss this fall, but said the coaching staff will be able to fill-in if needed.

“We have plenty of guys,” Stoops said. “That’s the nice thing about our staff is we have a lot of guys that are capable of doing that and guys with background there, and of course, Coach (Eddie) Gran can coach all the positions. We’ll handle it just fine within our program.”

Although football is a priority, the Wildcats also are dealing with adversity well before the season opener and are rallying around Schlarman and Pascal.

“Everyone’s thoughts and prayers are out to them and just to (Schlarman’s) family,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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