'RIP Coach': Kentucky Football Coach John Schlarman's Death at 45 Has Hit Fans and Players Hard

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."

Over the past few months, we asked members of our @UKFootball family what @CoachSchlarman means to them.

An incredible person who's impact reaches throughout our community, and who will always hold a special place in our hearts 💙 #SchlarmanStrong pic.twitter.com/4eUU8oIUi8

— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 12, 2020

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.

Such a selfless and loving coach, thankful to have been apart of your legacy and lessons you have taught along the way. Rip coach you will be forever missed💙 #BigblueWall https://t.co/RGuVuEyPLU

— Mr SNELL YA LATER👋🏾 (@benny_snell) November 12, 2020

Wow RIP coach 😥 https://t.co/OSRWMtCght

— Lonnie Johnson jr. (@Lonnie30johnson) November 12, 2020

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.

RIP Coach, meant so much to me and so many others 💔💯

— RJ Adams ✌🏾 (@exclusivejaayy) November 12, 2020

Man... been around a lot of coaches. One of the great ones. Thoughts with his family. RIP Coach Schlarman. With much respect. https://t.co/b1HGX3XkX4

— Jalen Whitlow (@JWhitlow_2) November 12, 2020

Life is precious, never take it for granted and live each day to its fullest. RIP coach #SchlarmanStrong 💙 https://t.co/nQIurT0riV

— Ian Carry (@UKCoachCarry) November 12, 2020

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.

I hope his children grow up forever inspired by their dad’s character and courageousness. May God be with his family. RIP, Coach. #SchlarmanStrong 💙 https://t.co/uVkWZwGOMB

— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) November 12, 2020

Very sad news. RIP Coach. https://t.co/FmpFkvEuMo

— Shannon The Dude (@ShannonTheDude) November 12, 2020

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.

This is a sad day for KY. RIP Coach Schlarman. Our prayers are with your family🙏🏻 https://t.co/CqH1BQDlLt

— John Michael Montgomery (@JM2Squared) November 12, 2020

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

John Schlarman
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. Elsa/Getty