By LARRY VAUGHT
Last year was supposed to be a huge breakout year for Josh Paschal, a sophomore who was being moved from linebacker to the defensive front.
Instead, he was diagnosed with skin cancer before the season started and was not able to play except for a limited role in a few games late in the season.
Now he’s cleared to start this season and could be a difference maker for the Cats this season if he can stay healthy. He’s been moved back to linebacker, too.
“With Josh, I think he gives us the ability to move him back there. Now all of a sudden you move Boogie Watson back to Sam, you move Josh to Jack (linebacker), all of a sudden your front seven is pretty darn big, pretty physical. I like that combination,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“Josh is very versatile. He was going to play, depending whether we’re in 3-4 or 4-3 schemes, he’d play some of that anyway, just semantics of how we get there. We are going to start him there back at Jack, outside backer, where he started, played quite a bit as a true freshman.
Paschal has had to learn to be patient after his diagnosis, treatment and surgeries. It has not been easy.
“I am usually patient. Not with football though because I want to be great ,so it’s something I need to work on, being patient, but at the same time I want to work as hard as I can,” Paschal said. “There has been trials, but I had my faith and my faith has grown tremendously during this time.
“My teammates gave me support. Coaches are always supporting me. My family of course and my friends from back home. All the support I’m getting has really helped me through everything.”
Paschal was in a much better mood at Media Day last week than he was a year ago. He was not available for interviews after Stoops announced his cancer diagnosis.
“My lowest point would probably be this day (Media Day) last year when everybody started camp and I was at home in my bed and I was wishing I was out there with my brothers,” Paschal said. “I went through the whole offseason and worked as hard as I can and me realizing I wouldn’t be out there with my brothers really hurt.
“My mom and my family and, of course, my teammates sent me a video telling me they will be there for me and that really lifted me up.”