Kentucky Wildcats senior defender Josh Paschal has been named one of six finalists for the Pop Warner College Football Award.
This award annually recognizes a senior who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom, in his community, and serves as a role model to Pop Warner’s young student athletes. Former Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad won the award in 2018.
Paschal, a fifth-year starter, leads the team and ranks second in the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss to go with 53 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, a team-high eight QB hurries, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in Kentucky’s 20-13 win over Florida. He’s the only three-time team captain in Kentucky football history.
Since his cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2018, Paschal has made a significant impact on those of us in the Kentucky football program and thousands of others. He’s spoken to churches, school groups, cancer groups and media entities on his faith and how he beat cancer. He kept his grades up through it all, earning spots on the Dean’s List and the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. He also appeared on NBC’s Today Show in May of 2019 to discuss the seriousness of melanoma.
In 2020, he was elected one of three representatives for UK Football on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the SEC Football Leadership Council. He took the lead on social justice initiatives over the summer of 2020, helping lead a peaceful walk for racial and social justice in the city of Lexington, as well as a players’ movement during training camp to raise awareness for those issues. Each time was one of only a few players selected to speak on behalf of the team. He also recorded videos encouraging fellow students and fans to wear their masks during Covid-19 pandemic, #MaskUpCats.
The winner of this award will be announced in early January.