(LEX 18) — Josh Paschal never gave up on his dream, and his fierce determination, raw talent, and unwavering work ethic paid off for him Friday night when he heard his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft. He was selected in the second round as the No. 46th pick by the Detroit Lions.
Paschal now enters a new phase of his athletic and personal life, but what he accomplished at Kentucky will never be forgotten. He was a four-year letter winner, the only player to be named a captain by his coaches and teammates for three full seasons, and played in 52 games with 37 starts for the Wildcats. His 37 tackles for loss in his Kentucky career ranks tied for third in program history.
His senior season was his most productive year yet, but Paschal's performance in Kentucky's historic win over No. 9 Florida in week five stands out as his strongest. He totaled seven tackles, including 2.5 for loss (-6 yards), plus the game changing blocked field goal in the third quarter, which was returned for a touchdown that gave Kentucky the lead. He was named SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week and the Reese's Senior Bowl Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against the Gators.
The BBN came to know and love Paschal early in his career. He played in all 13 games as a freshman in 2017, even earning one start. But in the summer before his sophomore year, Paschal announced he had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a rare form of skin cancer, on the bottom of his foot.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, Paschal underwent three surgeries, followed by ongoing, monthly immunotherapy treatments. He was able to recover and rebuild his body in time to play in the final three games of that season. He even started against Middle Tennessee, and he went on to make a tackle on a third down play to force a punt. When his name was announced over the Kroger Field speakers as the credited tackler, the Big Blue Nation gave him an incredible ovation while his teammates rushed him with their own congratulations. The Cats won 10 games that season, just as they did in Paschal's senior year.
"They have nothing in common, but they have everything in common."— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisTV) September 18, 2021
Josh and Jacob, a story of faith and friendship
My story on how FCA continues to bring roommates @JPaschalx and @Big_Cookie5 together, no matter what life throws their way pic.twitter.com/Vd1xDnDKPl
Paschal was as impactful off the field as he was on it. He served as one of three representatives for UK football on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, was UK's representative on the SEC's Football Leadership Council, was named to the Uplifting-Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team, and was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member. He graduated from UK in May of 2021 with a degree in family science and a minor in health promotion.
He brought home the trophy for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award in 2021 for demonstrating a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field:
On his official UK Athletics biography, Paschal listed "serving others" as his passion in life, but his dream job has always been playing in the NFL. Now, that dream is finally a reality.