The first time Vince Marrow met John Schlarman was 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 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.
“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.”
TyTy Washington is a natural scorer, but the 6-4 point guard who signed with Kentucky last week can do a little bit of everything.
“He can truly play both guard spots. His DNA is to score the ball and he does that in a variety of ways. Behind the arc, he is confident and balances that with a pull-up game and floaters and lay-up at the rim. He navigates well in ball screens because he can read his man, the coverage and the help-side and make the right play,” ESPN national scouting director Paul Biancardi said.
“His decision making is strong as is his leadership ability. He is not afraid to hold others accountable nor does he mind being held accountable by others.”
That’s the kind of point guard presence UK lacked last season when it went 9-16 and now hopefully has for next season with Washington, a player who made a dramatic rise in the recruiting rankings his senior season at Arizona Compass Prep.
“I like that he can do a number of things. In the GEICO Nationals he had the ball in his hands a lot because he had to carry the team offensively. At the Iverson Classic he got the ball out of his hands quickly and threw ahead. The ball didn't stick in his hands,” Rivals.com recruiting writer David Sisk said.
“He is a prolific outside shooter with a beautiful and natural stroke. He also sees the floor well and appears to be an excellent passer. In a nutshell it looks like he does a lot of things well.”
Washington can run the point and/or score.
Sisk said in the GEICO national championship he had assists off the dribble. At the Iverson Classic, he had several assists off quick passes in the open court.
“He looks to me like a smooth point guard who is an excellent outside shooter as well as a good passer,” Sisk said. “I think he would be fine in (John) Calipari's system because he is an obvious upgrade over what they had at the point last year. I definitely think he is one of the top three guards in 2021, which means he's talented.
“It still remains to be seen how effective he would be in a late shot clock situation with the pending high ball screen. But if he were to be on the floor with CJ Fredrick, Dontaie Allen, Kellan Grady, and even perhaps Davion Mintz, then you all of a sudden have a cast of very good shooters on the floor.”
Chin and Cal’s first meeting
John Calipari was not a stranger to Ronald “Chin” Coleman before Coleman left Illinois to join the Kentucky coaching staff recently. Or at least Coleman knew about Calipari even if Calipari might not have remembered their first meeting when Coleman was head coach at Whitney Young High School in Chicago.
“We were a top 10 program in the country. I’m sure you have heard of Whitney Young and all the great players that have played there, and I coached there. When I was a high school coach, Coach Cal was at Memphis,” Coleman said.
“He may not even remember this, but I came up to Memphis and I studied Coach Cal for a week. Coach (Orlando) Antigua remembered that. I was there for a week just studying the dribble-drive offense at the time. That’s what I do: I’m a forever student of the game. I study like crazy.”
Coleman said he visited every coach/college he could trying to learn something from everyone.
“If I can take a page out of this book, his book, that book, put it with my pages, now I’ve got a really, really, really good read. I’ve got a great book. I did that as a high school coach, and that was kind of like my first introduction to Coach Cal and it was from an admiration standpoint in what he was doing in the offense and obviously the success,” Coleman said.
“I want to be around that. I want to be a part of success and winning.”
Coleman obviously followed Calipari’s career success and when Coleman started his college coaching career he sometimes would find himself in the same gyms in Chicago and other places as Calipari.
“We’ve known of each other for a while, but I never, ever, ever dreamt or thought that I would have the opportunity to work for him, and that’s why when that opportunity came, it was like a sweet deal, man,” Coleman said.
“It was just so sweet to say that I was coming to coach at Kentucky.”
Volleyball and summer camps
Summer camps will be coming up and if you ever wondered why those camps can be so important, just consider volleyball All-American Madison Lilley of national champion Kentucky.
Lilley came from Kansas City to attend UK coach Crag Skinner’s summer camp when she was in the seventh grade.
“A few different Kansas City girls were going so it just looked something that would be fun to do. Carpool to camp and just have a good time,” Lilley said.
She kept coming back to camp — something Skinner called a “Godsend” for UK — and one of her camp roommates one year was Gabby Curry. Turns out Curry also signed with Kentucky and became an All-American libero while Lilley became the nation’s dominant setter.
“She is one of the most fierce competitors I have ever been around,” Lilley said about her senior teammate. “At the national championship, you could just see that fight and drive in her eyes and that was so cool.
“Just the relationship we developed on and off the court was so awesome for us. It allowed us both to elevate our game and that was huge for our team.
“We are both so competitive that we embraced the grind (of last season). We went through the ringer together, especially in the summers. But we both were always more than willing to do that because we believed it would get us to where it did this year.”
Two freshman receivers who might find a way to help UK’s offense next season are Christian Lewis of Alabama and Chauncey Magwood of Georgia, who were both recruited by assistant coach Jon Sumrall. Magwood enrolled early and went through spring practice while Lewis will be on campus in June.
“They are both different. Christian is about 6-3½ and longer. He is a play the ball in the air guy,” Sumrall said. “He will get better as he develops more strength.
“He was a really good high school basketball player. When he was a sophomore coming off an injury, we were his first SEC offer. We were fortunate to get him on board and hold on when the big boys of the SEC tried to flip him. He’s also a great student.”
Lewis had 70 catches for 1,235 yards and 18 touchdowns his senior season and helped Pleasant Grove win back-to-back Class 5A state titles. He has six catches for 111 yards and two scores in the 2020 title game. Lewis, a four-star recruit, also had 75 catches for 1,398 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. He picked UK over Texas A&M, Mississippi and Notre Dame.
The 6-0, 180-pound Magwood started 58 straight games for Lee County High School and helped his team go 52-6 in four seasons and win two state titles in three state championship appearances. He moved from receiver to quarterback his senior season.
He caught 53 passes for 700 yards and 10 scores as a junior after making 68 catches for 958 yards and seven touchdowns his sophomore season. He picked UK over Arkansas, Florida State, Louisville, Nebraska and South Carolina.
“At some programs it might not be a big deal to start every game in high school but it is really a big deal at that school,” Sumrall said. “His team won a state championship when he was a freshman. He played in three state title games.
“He has great short area quickness. He knows how to get a defensive back off balance and is a great route runner. He just has an edge about him, a kind of football moxie that you just can’t make up.”
Quotes of the Week
No. 1: “You know he's ready. You know how fired up he is. He can’t wait for this season to start and get back in the gym and work. When you have your leader that excited and fired up, that runs though everybody. There's not going to be a whole lot of talking. It's going to be a whole lot of working,” new assistant coach Orlando Antigua on John Calipari.
No. 2: “We came here to change a program. We wanted to make an impact and leave a legacy for guys after us and I think we did,” Landon Young on the Kentucky football program.
No. 3: “I love playing in New York. I want to retire as a New York Knick,” Julius Randle on The Victory podcast after a New York win last week.