Mark Stoops, Kentucky coaches visit Chris Oats to deliver game ball

From left, Kentucky coaches Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Jon Sumrall deliver the game ball from the Wildcats 24-2 win against Mississippi State to Chris Oats at his Cincinnati home. (Courtesy of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops on Twitter

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops made a special delivery the day after the Wildcats' first win of the 2020 season. 

Stoops and fellow coaches Vince Marrow and Jon Sumrall delivered the game ball from UK's 24-2 victory against Mississippi State to linebacker Chris Oats, who returned to his home in Cincinnati on Saturday from a physical rehabilitation center. Oats was hospitalized in May with an undisclosed, non-coronavirus-related medical emergency. 

After the victory, Stoops said, "It was important for us to play well for him and try to inspire Chris to continue with his rehab."

Kentucky linebacker Chris Oats

Kentucky linebacker Chris Oats was hospitalized in May with an undisclosed, non-coronavirus-related medical emergency. 

"We played #22OatsStrong, won by 22, and shared a special moment with him personally delivering the game ball," Stoops said in a tweet Sunday. 

To honor Oats, the Kentucky football team is allowing a different player to wear his No. 22 jersey each week of the season. Wearing the No. 22 on Saturday, linebacker Jamin Davis made a crucial interception of Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello with the Bulldogs threatening in the red zone down at the end of the first half. Davis also led the team with 11 tackles. 

"It was emotional for me all day just thinking about him and seeing that he just got to go home," Davis said after the win. "I just wanted to do whatever I could to play really well for him and his family, my brothers beside me as well."

Kentucky tight end Keaton Upshaw (88) catches a touchdown pass

Kentucky tight end Keaton Upshaw (88) catches a touchdown pass as Mississippi State's Esaias Furdge defends during the first half an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Another teammate, tight end Keaton Upshaw, has set up a GoFundMe page — www.22OATSSTRONG.COM — to help Oats' family pay for medical bills. Upshaw scored the Wildcats' first touchdown Saturday on a 12-yard pass from Terry Wilson. 

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