By: Michele Brown
It began like a typical Media Day. Reporters and photographers gathered in the recruiting room at Kroger Field and enjoyed breakfast while waiting for the day’s activities to begin. Everyone then moved down to the media room for a press conference with Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, Head Coach Mark Stoops, Assistant Head Coach Eddie Gran, and Defensive Coordinator Matt House.
After delivering his annual State of the Program speech, Barnhart left the podium to make way for Mark Stoops. It was obvious by Stoops’ demeanor that something wasn’t quite right and it was only a matter of seconds before we discovered what that was as he opened his remarks with this:
Before I get started I have a couple updates I wanted to give you. As I reported last week about Josh Paschal and the skin lesions he had removed from the bottom of his right foot, well, I’m sorry to say that those came back as malignant melanoma. So since those results came back, Josh had another procedure this past Wednesday and we’re waiting for those results to come back.
Out of respect to his family, please, you know, don’t dive into this anymore. Josh wanted to be upfront with this. Josh and his family are handling it well. They wanted to be open about this so there was no speculation. They also want this to be a reminder for people to pay close attention to any changes in their skin, and if so, have those evaluated.
The second announcement I have is in regards to coach John Schlarman. He is also dealing with a health issue. He is undergoing additional testing to determine the nature of this issue. He is still coaching with us.
Again, we wanted to be upfront and I will keep you updated with this information as available. We appreciate your sensitive to the privacy of Josh, John and their families as they go through this process.
Again, John and Josh are very strong, very good people; two of the best people we have in our program. Our team will be supportive of them as they continue to battle through these health issues. It’s been a tough couple days in our program leading up to the beginning of camp here, but we — again, our hearts and prayers are with Josh and John as they battle this issue.
But, as they say, the show must go on, and indeed it did. Stoops fielded a variety of questions and here are some of the highlights:
The theme today overall seemed to be the increase in size and strength of the team overall. As Mitch Barnhart said in his statement, “We look like an SEC team.” That’s certainly a step forward for a Kentucky program that has historically been undersized compared to other teams in the conference.
Perhaps it’s the improved size and strength combined with depth and experience that has this group of Wildcats feeling pretty good heading into the upcoming season. A.J. Rose said he was “more focused than he’s ever been,” and is ready to help backfield teammate Benny Snell, Jr. And when asked how many losses would be disappointing, Mike Edwards replied simply, “One.”
How the season will play out remains to be seen, but we’re only 4 weeks away from finding out how good these Cats can be. But while you’re cheering on this team, remember in the end, it is just a game. If you have any doubts about that, look no further than Josh Paschal.
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