Kentucky football coach John Schlarman has died at 45


Kentucky offensive lineman coach John Schlarman. University of Kentucky football defeated Middle Tennessee State University 34-23 at Kroger Field on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Braden Ramsey

Kentucky Football’s beloved offensive line coach John Schlarman passed away early Thursday morning following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 45 years old.

“I’m heartbroken to learn about the passing of my friend, John Schlarman,” said UK head coach Mark Stoops in a press release shortly after the news broke. “My prayers go out to LeeAnne and the kids, Joseph, Benjamin, Matthew and Evelyn, through this very difficult time.

“John was everything we all strive to be – honest, tough, fair, respected. Kentucky football won’t be the same without him, but his legacy will never fade. He was a fighter, and we will strive every day to honor his warrior spirit.”

“The UK Athletics family is in deep sorrow on the passing of John Schlarman,” said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics in the press release.  “Throughout the last two years, he has been an incredible inspiration. He taught people how to live and showed all of us what it means to be courageous.

“John was a great husband and father, teacher and leader.  He will be remembered for the love he had for his family, his dedication to his players and his excellence as a coach. Our prayers and heartfelt condolences are with his family and all who knew and loved him.”

Schlarman spent eleven seasons on the football staff at UK, including three as a graduate assistant from 2000-2002. He rejoined the Cats as part of Mark Stoops’ initial staff when he became head coach in 2013.

An All-State offensive lineman for Highlands High School in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, Schlarman joined the UK program in 1993. When he began suiting up in 1994, he had an immediate impact. He was a four-year starter, and his standout play made him an SEC All-Freshman team member and earned him first-team All-SEC honors as a senior.

Schlarman entered coaching at Bourbon County High School, where he served as the defensive line coach (1998-1999). After his graduate assistant stint, he worked as the head coach at both Campbell County High School (2003-2005) and Newport High School (2005-2007) before going to Troy University as the offensive line coach (2007-2012). The position at Troy was his final coaching gig prior to his return to Lexington.

Schlarman oversaw five All-SEC lineman during his tenure: Jon Toth, Drake Jackson, Landon Young, Bunchy Stallings and Logan Stenberg. Stallings and Stenberg also earned All-America honors under his tutelage.

Schlarman was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma – cancer of the bile ducts – in the summer of 2018. He continued coaching the Cats while undergoing treatments for the disease.

His story was became known on a more national scale after a feature by ESPN’s Alex Scarborough in May of this year, which detailed both his and defensive lineman Josh Paschal’s fights against cancer.

He was a major inspiration to not only his players, but anyone who knew of him. His determination and perseverance were unmatched.

Schlarman’s final in-person game appearance came in Kentucky’s historic victory over Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. The Cats put up their most complete performance of the season in the win.