Recruiting heats up for son of Big Blue Wall architect

Published 1:30 am Saturday, April 29, 2023


Contributing columnist

Joe Schlarman is a 6-3, 265-pound junior lineman at Lexington Catholic who can squat 405 pounds. He can also play all five offensive line positions.

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He recently made an unofficial visit to Kentucky where he put on jersey No. 65 — the same number his father, John Schlarman, wore when he played at Kentucky.

“We are doing the recruiting thing right now,” said LeeAnne Schlarman, Joe’s mother. “Joe knows he needs to get stronger and bigger. He is working hard. It’s an exciting but nerve wracking time. We have a lot of people helping guide us and I am just interested to see how it works out.”

John Schlarman coached at Kentucky and built the Big Blue Wall with his work with UK’s offensive line before his passing three years ago from cancer. Two of John Schlarman’s former players, Mason Wolfe and Zach West, are now assistant coaches at Lexington Catholic.

“It would just be amazing if Joe did end up there (Kentucky) but that’s a long way off,” LeeAnne said. “All the kids take pictures in jerseys and to do that in No. 65 was exciting for him. It was a very special moment for him and a really neat time.”

If the younger Schlarman ended up at UK, he would be a third generation Wildcat. His maternal grandfather, Joe Federspiel, was a standout linebacker at UK who also played 10 years in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.

Joe Schlarman has been offered by Murray, where former UK assistant Dean Hood is the head coach and has also received interest from Eastern Kentucky, Troy, Austin Peay and Miami.

Troy is coached by former UK player/assistant coach Jon Sumrall.

“John was at Troy for several years (as an assistant coach). We have a lot of good friends there,” LeeAnne said. “We are really close to the Sumralls. It’s been great to see them doing so well and the community rallying around him.”

Speaking of offensive line play, Kentucky offensive line coach Zach Yenser went back and watched offensive tackle Marques Cox play against Kentucky last season when he found out the Northern Illinois transfer had interest in the Wildcats.

“If you watch, he has played a lot of snaps in his career,” Yenser said. “I like his length. He is physical. He played against us and Vanderbilt last year back to back and did great.

“Watching him and then getting a chance to be around him and realizing how good a human being he is and I realized his leadership was also what we needed. He is a mature player who will hold people accountable.”

Cox did everything the Kentucky coaches expected in spring practice and is clearly the No. 1 left tackle on the depth chart.

“I still remember the first time I met him in person. I called coach Stoops and said, ‘This guy will be our starting left tackle,’” Yenser said. “He just has a good presence about him.

“The one thing I learned last year is that college is a lot different game than the NFL. You continue to learn stuff and he’s a guy that will help others do that.”