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Kentucky named semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award

John Schlarman’s Big Blue Wall was once again among the best offensive lines in college football this year.

UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats’ offensive line has been named one of 11 semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award, recognizing the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in college football.

The 11 semifinalists include No. 1 Alabama, No. 23 Buffalo, No. 14 BYU, No. 9 Coastal Carolina, No. 18 Iowa, No. 8 Iowa State, Kentucky, No. 17 Louisiana, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Ohio State, and No. 5 Texas A&M.

This is the second-straight year that Kentucky’s offensive line, known as the “Big Blue Wall,” has been named semifinalists and the third time since 2016.

The Wildcats are fifth in the SEC in rushing at 187.7 yards per game and Kentucky’s offensive line has paved the way for top rusher, Chris Rodriguez Jr., to average 6.9 yards per carry which leads the SEC and ranks 12th nationally. Playing in just eight games, he has totaled 701 rushing yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

Kentucky has three players with more than 1,000 career rushing yards (Rodriguez, A.J. Rose and Terry Wilson), with a fourth player nearing that landmark (Kavosiey Smoke). UK also had three 100-yard rushers (Rodriguez, Rose and Wilson) in a single game (vs. Ole Miss) for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats currently have 139 combined starts on the offensive line. Seniors Drake Jackson and Landon Young and junior Darian Kinnard have started in a combined 91 consecutive games.

Of course, this was all made possible by the efforts of John Schlarman, who was Kentucky’s offensive line coach since 2013 before tragically passing away in November following a two-year battle with cancer.

“What makes the play of Kentucky’s offensive line even more impressive this season is how they have handled the sickness and then passing of their beloved offensive line coach John Schlarman. After a two-year battle with cancer, Schlarman passed away on Nov. 12, 2020,” the Joe Moore Award committee said in a press release.

“Despite battling extensive treatments, he rarely missed a game or practice, serving as an example to “finish.” When asked why he never wanted to miss he simply stated, “for the team.” He coached his final game in UK’s upset over Tennessee on Oct. 17, 2020. The former Wildcat and All-SEC lineman returned to his alma mater to join Mark Stoops’ staff in 2013, slowly building the “Big Blue Wall’ that would become his legacy. His offensive lines were semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award in 2016 and 2019.”

The Joe Moore Award finalists will be named on Monday, December 21. The eventual winner will be recognized in the ensuing weeks during a surprise on-campus visit to the winning unit’s school.