LEXINGTON, Ky — The Kentucky football program is honoring a legend, unveiling a large banner of the late John Schlarman to hang on the outside of Kroger Field. The poster was hung Tuesday morning, and it includes one of Coach Schlarman's signature lines - "You come together, nobody can stop you."
The former UK football player turned offensive line coach died last November after a two-year battle with cancer. His family was at Kroger Field on Tuesday when the banner was revealed for the first time.
"We didn't know what we were coming here for. We just knew there was something special going on, and they wanted to keep it special for us so it's been pretty quiet. We didn't really know. It's pretty exciting but nervous at the same time," LeeAnne Schlarman, John's wife, told BBN Tonight from the unveiling.
"I was a little overwhelmed. I didn't realize everyone would be down there and see us. But it was great, too. We've missed seeing everyone. They've made us feel very comfortable and at home still, but we really miss being here as much as we were the past few years."
"Obviously, it kind of hits you. It's emotional when you see John up there on the wall," head coach Mark Stoops said after seeing the poster for the first time. "We miss him, and it's a great honor to have him on our stadium."
BBN Tonight's Keith Farmer was at Kroger Field this morning for the reveal. He captured the incredible before, during and after pictures while the previous banner, featuring 2019 NFL Draft pick Josh Allen, was taken down, and he talked with the Schlarman family and Coach Stoops after they saw the banner for the first time.
The first step in honoring John Schlarman has been made. The banner of @JoshAllen41_ has come down and the Schlarman family saw the new banner. Hear from LeeAnne Schlarman and @UKCoachStoops on @BBNTonight and @LEX18News #ForTheTeam pic.twitter.com/xOM4sKLVLY— Keith Farmer (@KeithFarmer18) August 24, 2021
"Just one way we could recognize John. We're still searching for more ways to honor him and represent him," Coach Stoops told Farmer after the reveal. "For LeeAnne and the boys to come out here and see him on the wall, for all of us, it's inspirational. It does put a smile on our faces. It's been a difficult time, but this is one way to recognize John, and hopefully LeeAnne and the family like it."
"It's great to see John up there. I know he would be proud and embarrassed to see himself up there. It'll be fun to come to games and be able to see him up there," LeeAnne said. "We had no idea what kind of an impact he made on people, so it's been nice to see what people are doing to honor him for us. It's been really nice."
"It's cool to see the impact he had on everybody - things we didn't really get to see," Schlarman's oldest son, Joe said. "It's amazing and really shows the impact he had on everybody."
The Kentucky football account also shared a picture of the new poster, with the Schlarman family and current members of the "Big Blue Wall," writing: "A first step in honoring the legacy of Coach Schlarman, now in the Gate 12 Plaza. We are fortunate to have his family here today to unveil this!"
A first step in honoring the legacy of Coach Schlarman, now in the Gate 12 Plaza.— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) August 24, 2021
We are fortunate to have his family here today to unveil this! #ForTheTeam x #BigBlueWall! 😼🏈 pic.twitter.com/vLH0pRjd2N
Mark Stoops is right: "His memory will live on here for a long time."
For more on the big reveal, watch BBN Tonight at 7:30 on the official station of UK Athletics, LEX18 News or anytime on BBNTonight.com