Kentucky Football to honor Chris Oats by rotating No. 22

Linebacker DeAndre Square will wear No. 22 Saturday vs. Auburn


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.”

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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.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas