Kentucky’s offensive line coach John Schlarman was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma in the summer of 2018. Despite his diagnosis, he continued to coach through countless treatments and the horrific side effects from those treatments. In two seasons, he did not miss a game (and rarely missed a practice) until Oct. 24, 2020 at Missouri. When asked why he never wanted to miss practice or a game when we could clearly see he was sick and hurting, he simply stated “for the team.” His final appearance on the sidelines was October 17 at Tennessee as UK defeated the 17th-ranked Volunteers 34-7, the Cats’ first win in Knoxville since 1984. Following the game, he was awarded the game ball by head coach Mark Stoops. Just three weeks later, Coach Schlarman passed away on Nov. 12, 2020. His tenacity and determination was an inspiration to UK players and everyone else around him.
Schlarman, a former Kentucky offensive lineman, was an original member of Stoops’ staff in 2013, working tirelessly to help rebuild a football program that he loved dearly. A perfect fit for Stoops’ blue-collar approach, Schlarman’s offensive line played a key role in the process that culminated with four consecutive bowl appearances from 2016-19. In 2018, UK went 10-3, the school’s first 10-win season in 41 years, topped by a win over Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl. UK followed with a win over Virginia Tech in the 2019Belk Bowl. During the last four seasons, Kentucky broke numerous school records, including single-season records for most rushing yards, most rushing touchdowns and most rushing yards per attempt. In 2016 and ’19, Schlarman’s Cats were semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award given to the nation’s top offensive line. They are currently on the midseason watch list for the Joe Moore Award again this year. Individually, guards Logan Stenberg and Bunchy Stallings earned All-America honors under Schlarman. Stenberg, Stallings, centers Jon Toth and Drake Jackson, and tackle Landon Young received All-SEC accolades. The linemen helped pave the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last four seasons, Stanley “Boom” Williams, Benny Snell Jr. and Lynn Bowden Jr.Snell reached the 1,000-yard mark three times and left UK as the school’s all-time leading rusher.