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‘rip Coach’: Death Of Kentucky Football Coach John Schlarman Has 45 Fans And Players Most Affected

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On Thursday, University of Kentucky assistant football coach John Schlarman died after a two year battle with cancer at 45. Players from the college, other staff members and fans took to Twitter to eulogize the beloved coach.

Schlarman was a member of head coach Mark Stoops’ staff since 2013. In a statement released by the college, Stoops mourned Schlarman’s death. “I’m heartbroken to learn about the passing of my friend, John Schlarman,” he said. “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.”

Besides working as an assistant coach, Schlarman was also a Kentucky alumni who played on the football team as an offensive lineman from 1994 to 1997. According to the statement, Schlarman had various coaching positions at high schools and colleges. While earning his master’s degree from Kentucky from 2000 to 2002, he also assisted with the college’s offensive line. After rejoining in 2013, Schlarman coached teams that went on to victory in the 2018 VRBO Citrus Bowl and the 2019 Belk Bowl.

The football team tweeted out a video of Schlarman’s co-workers on the UK football staff and players speaking about what an impact he’s had on them. Many of the coaches spoke about a positive attitude he had for work, and players said that he had an impact on them both on and off the field. Senior offensive guard Luke Fortner compared Schlarman to “a second father.”

Tributes from NFL players who spent their collegiate careers at Kentucky poured in. Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell both tweeted their condolences for Schlarman. “Such a selfless and loving coach, thankful to have been apart [sic] of your legacy and lessons you have taught along the way,” Snell tweeted.

Some former and current players also offered memorials for the coach. Freshman offensive guard RJ Adams and Jalen Whitlow, who played QB for Kentucky in 2013 and 2014 both shared thoughts on the coach. Kentucky women’s soccer coach Ian Carry also tweeted about Schlarman’s, telling followers not to take life for granted. “[B]een around a lot of coaches. One of the great ones,” Whitlow wrote about Schlarman.

Commentators and sports reporters also eulogized Schlarman. ESPN reporter Taylor McGregor tweeted out thoughts about Schlarman’s children, hoping they will continue to look up to their father.

Country singer John Michael Montgomery said that it was “a sad day for [Kentucky],” showing the coach’s reach extended far past just football and his death also impacted fans.

A University of Kentucky spokesperson did not respond to Newsweek’s emailed request for comment in time for publication.

Graduate Assistant Coach John Schlarman of the Kentucky Wildcats talks to the offensive line during the SEC football game against the Tennessee Volunteers on November 17, 2001 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Tennessee won 38-35. Schlarman died on Thursday following a battle with cancer.
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