Josh Paschal shed a block, pursued the ball carrier and took him down to secure a third-down stop for his team. In the midst of a promising freshman campaign the previous year, that kind of play was commonplace. But at that moment, after everything Paschal had been through, it was the most emotional one of a historic 2018 season.

Three months of ongoing treatment and three surgeries after a diagnosis of malignant melanoma, Paschal made a triumphant return to action at Kroger Field as Kentucky downed Middle Tennessee, 34-23. That tackle he made was his first of the season, but it was hardly his first contribution.

Even when he couldn’t play through three months of ongoing treatment and three surgeries, Paschal was an inspiration to his team. The Cats closed every team huddle with “JP on three” in his honor, while also supporting offensive line John Schlarman in his own battle with serious illness.

When Paschal returned, he only became more inspirational.