LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Kentucky football is set to honor junior linebacker Chris Oats, who has been battling a serious medical condition since May, when a different player will be chosen each week of the season to wear Oats’ No. 22.
“We are going to recognize (UK linebacker) Chris Oats and have a player each week wear his number in honor of Chris, starting with DeAndre Square this week, who would normally be playing side-by-side with him as the two inside linebackers,” head coach Mark Stoops said. “(Tight end) Keaton Upshaw is his roommate and wants to wear it and honor him for the first home game. Those are the first two we have set and from there we will alternate his number to honor him and show him he’s still with us and we’re thinking about him.”
Oats, a native of Cincinnati, suffered a medical emergency in May of 2020. He is currently in a physical rehabilitation center in his home state of Ohio.
“I am honored to be the first player to wear No. 22,” Square said. “Chris is my best friend on the team and wearing No. 22 will hopefully let him and everyone else know that he’s always with us and he’s going to be with us this whole season. I know he’s fighting and grinding every day to get better so he can come back to Kentucky.”
The team is wearing #22OATSSTRONG wristbands to show their support and they conclude each team practice with “22!” Members of the team have also created a website www.22OATSSTRONG.COM with a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical bills.