Vince Marrow knows he will keep missing John Schlarman

Published 7:32 am Monday, May 17, 2021

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The first time Vince Marrow met John Schlarman was in 2013 when the two started coaching together at Kentucky. It didn’t take long for Marrow to realize how special Schlarman was.

Schlarman, a former Kentucky player, was the offensive line coach at Kentucky under Mark Stoops until his passing last season after a two-year battle with cancer. The assistant coach was recently honored with the “Heart of a Wildcat” CATSPY along with three UK athletes — Cullan Brown, Terrence Clark, and Ben Jordan — who have passed recently.

Kentucky football alumni will host a golf scramble on June 7 at Keene Trace Golf Club. The inaugural Schlarman Strong / Kentucky Football Alumni Golf Tournament will present all the proceeds to Schlarman’s family.

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“He was a true Kentuckian. He was really loved by our entire staff,” Marrow, UK’s recruiting coordinator, said. “I hope everyone will continue to keep his family in your prayers. He deserves that.”

Marrow was asked about Schlarman’s impact on Kentucky football during his recent speech at the Louisville Quarterback Club.

“You are going to make me cry,” Marrow said. “We could be here all day talking about John. I am the one who gave him the nickname the Great American. He was tough.”

Marrow started laughing thinking about one recruiting trip he was on with Schlarman. He took the UK offensive line coach into “kind of a rough establishment” that had metal detectors patrons had to go through.

“John walks through (the detector) and the guy is patting him down,” Marrow said. “He looked at me like, ‘Where in the hell have you got us going?’ But he went. That’s how he was.”

Marrow knew how difficult the final few months were for Schlarman before his passing but he would not give up. He wanted to keep coaching.

Marrow remembers going by Schlarman’s office late at night and he would still be there working when it was obvious he was in pain.

“Sometimes he would lay on his back because he was hurting so much but once he told me, ‘Big Dawg, I am not going to flinch,’” Marrow said. “I have never seen a guy fight all the way until the end like he did. His last practice was only 10 days before he passed. He never gave up.”

Schlarman’s former players have vowed to make sure to keep his legacy alive. Marrow says there’s no doubt that will happen.

“He was such a good person. As long as there is football at this university, his name should always be there,” Marrow said. “A lot of people talk about great people and sometimes they will be lying. Not with John. He was just an awesome guy.

“All the way until the end he fought for the University of Kentucky. He did not want to take any time off.”

Schlarman changed Marrow’s perspective about football and life.

“Football is one thing, but he forever changed me as a man,” Marrow said. “He was a guy I loved. The whole staff loved him. Everybody loved John and should have. There will never be anyone else quite like John and that’s why I miss him every day.”

Article by Larry Vaught