Miami Lakes, Fla. – Kentucky’s Josh Paschal is this week’s nominee for the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Paschal, a redshirt sophomore, has started all six games for the Wildcats this season, just more than a year after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma on the bottom of his right foot.
“I was just so anxious to get back,” Paschal said in a September feature on the university health care system’s website. “I had a whole season ahead of me when I found out about everything, and I just really wanted to get back. When I came out on the field, when the announcer called my name when I made the play, with the crowd cheering, I just really felt all the support I had.”
In July of 2018, Paschal was diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer called acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) after discovering a spot on his foot that he initially thought was a blister. He underwent three surgeries before starting immunotherapy and taking medications to reduce the risk of cancer returning.
Paschal returned to the field for the final three games of the 2018 season. This season, he is the Wildcats’ co-leader in tackles for loss with five, and he has one sack, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup and 19 total tackles, including one stop for a loss in Saturday’s 24-20 win over Arkansas that lifted Kentucky to 3-3 on the season.
“It feels good to be fully healthy and feeling the best I ever have,” Paschal told the website. “I don’t have to worry about melanoma. I don’t have to worry about my treatments. Just being able to really focus on football is great.”
A 6-foot-3, 284-pound defensive end from Prince George’s County, Md., Paschal has played in 22 games through his first three seasons in Lexington, tallying 43 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks and one blocked kick.
The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.