In 2017, Joshua Paschal came to UK as their highest rated defensive recruit in his class. At 6-foot-4 inches and over 270 pounds, the high school football and basketball star features rare athleticism for his size.
During his high school’s dunk contest, he stole the show by leaping over a friend for a two handing slam, causing those in attendance to rush the court in excitement.
Paschal showcased a lot of potential last season. Kentucky’s 2018/19 defensive line will be Stoop’s most experienced unit in his tenure at UK. It may even be his most talented as well.
Currently, Paschal is dealing with severe health issues. It is unclear if he will even suit up this season.
#4 Joshua Paschal
Position: Defensive Line
Measurements: 6’3”, 278 lbs.
Hometown: Olney, MD
School: Our Lady of Good Counsel
Recruit Rankings: No. 11 Strong-Side Defensive End in 2017 (4-star)
Even for a true freshman, Paschal’s size and athleticism stood out immediately. He made a name for himself early in the season. With 1:32 left in Kentucky’s first game against Southern Miss, Paschal broke through the line and smashed their running back for his first career tackle.
Paschal played in all 13 games last season, including one start in the Music City Bowl. He tallied 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks over the course of the year. Paschal recorded a career-high three tackles in both their wins against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
His best performance of the season came in their Week 5 win over Eastern Michigan. His blocked punt early in the fourth quarter set up the game winning touchdown run by Benny Snell. A 3rd down QB hurry by Paschal on the play prior led to an incomplete pass, which forced the EMU punt.
Paschal earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the highlight play. He finished with one tackle, a QB hurry, the blocked kick and a shared sack against EMU.
Kentucky utilized Paschal mostly at the jack linebacker position last season, filling in behind Denzil Ware. He earned his first career start in the Music City bowl after the team suspended Ware for violating team rules.
With the transfer of Denzil Ware after last season, senior Josh Allen will move from defensive end into the jack linebacker role to replace him. Paschal reportedly approached Stoops and the rest of the coaching staff during the off-season about moving from outside linebacker to defensive end.
“Josh just does a lot of things good,” Stoops said. “He came to me and said he thought he could help the team by moving inside. He gained the weight and is doing what it takes to help the football team.”
The move to end makes sense for everyone. It allows Kentucky to run two supreme athletes in Allen and Paschal on the line together at the same time. That’s a lot of speed for Kentucky’s pass rush.
After their spring practices, the general consensus appeared to be that Paschal would be their starting DE. He scored a sack on QB Terry Wilson in Kentucky’s Blue and White scrimmage.
Unfortunately, the rest of the offseason has been extremely rough for Paschal. Last month, Mark Stoops announced that Paschal will miss the start of camp after having a minor procedure on his foot.
“He’s going to be out for a little bit,” Stoops said. “It’s nothing major but it’s in a weight-bearing part of his foot. So there was something removed there from his foot.”
Since the July surgery, things have only gotten worse. Stoops announced on August 3rd that Paschal has been diagnosed with Melanoma. He received the diagnosis after noticing skin lesions on the affected foot.
“Our hearts and prayers are with Josh and [offensive line coach John Schlarman, who is dealing with an undisclosed health issue] as they battle this issue,” Stoops said. “We’re very close to both of their families and spent time with both of the families this week. We will continue to be supportive and be family and be for them in any way we can.”
The severity of a Melanoma diagnosis cannot be over-exaggerated. Hopefully, doctors removed all the Melanoma in his foot. All you can do is wish nothing but the best for Paschal and his family.
Football is nowhere near the priority right now, the first step for him is getting healthy and cancer free.