College career has helped Lorenzen learn about more than just football

August 17, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

If life is about learning from different experiences, then Jared Lorenzen figures he's already lived a full life when it comes to football.

During the last four years, he's experienced everything from record-setting performances to national notoriety over his weight to coaching changes to losing his job as Kentucky's starting quarterback.

Yet if he could do it all over again, Lorenzen would be right back playing for the Wildcats.

"It has been an absolute, crazy monster run here for me," said Lorenzen. "It's had everything. We've had two heartbreaking losses to Mississippi State on ESPN on a Thursday night to that last-play loss to LSU last year. I've had three head coaches, four position coaches. I've had everybody ask about my weight and worry about it.

"But I wouldn't trade my time here for the world. It has taught me a lot about life and how to deal with the real world. I've built a lot of friendships and learned a lot of things about others and myself."


Now he want to lead Kentucky to a bowl game

Now he wants to lead Kentucky to the promised land - a postseason bowl game. Kentucky went 7-5 last year with him as starting quarterback. He wants to provide new coach Rich Brooks with a successful season and win enough games to get the Cats into their first bowl in four years.

His numbers last season were spectacular at times. He threw for 2,267 yards and 24 touchdowns by completing 183 of 327 passes with just five interceptions. During the 2001 season he was benched by then coach Guy Morriss benched him for part of the season and he was 167 of 292 for 2,179 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. HIs biggest numbers camein the 2000 season when he started all 11 games and threw for 3,687 yards and 19 scores while completing 321 of 559 throws. However, he also threw 21 interceptions that season.

Lorenzen has now thrown for 8,133 yards at Kentucky and needs just 403 more yards to surpass Tim Couch's total. He has 62 career touchdown passes, 12 fewer than Couch, and 617 career completions, 124 fewer than Couch.

Brooks was impressed that Lorenzen threw just one interception in spring practice, and new offensive coordinator Ron Hudson has helped improve his mechanics as well as given him a more structured playbook.

However, Lorenzen's weight has again been questioned. Brooks was pleased with his conditioning during spring practice, but felt he might have slipped over the summer.

"I've always been in a coach's doghouse here for something," Lorenzen said. "I've just learned to deal with it. It's not intentional on anyone's part. When you play quarterback, it's like that. You just can't aim for mediocrity.

"I've never wanted to be a mediocre quarterback. I've wanted to break all of Tim Couch's passing records because he is the guy you aim for. You don't want to be second or third. You aim for the best. I think I've shown I can play, but the coaches still have to get on me to make me the best player I can be. I want them, and everybody else, to do that because that just motivates me to be better."

Lorenzen likes Hudson

Despite what some might think, Lorenzen likes Hudson. Lorenzen and backup quarterback Shane Boyd both went to Hudson's house for dinner last month so they could talk about more than just football.

"It was cool that he wanted us to do that," Lorenzen said. "When you are on the field, you are different people. We all understand that. He is going to dog me, get on me constantly. He expects a lot from me. If he sees me slacking, I know he's going to get on me and he should. We probably will get into some back-and-forth matches, but that's just football. It's not personal. I understand that."

He's always understood that he's had weighty expectations on him since his heralded prep career at Fort Thomas Highlands. Lorenzen wants UK fans to have high hopes for high-profile in-state players such as Couch, Dennis Johnson and Derek Smith.

"I've never once shied away from the expectations because I think that is the way it should be," Lorenzen said. "We know you can't turn UK into a football school overnight, but we've tried like crazy to do it. Couch was doing great, then we had a couple of bad years. Now we are trying to get it turned around again.

"The freshmen now have to realize we are not a football school yet. We need to turn it around and become a successful two-sport school (football and men's basketball) like a lot of other schools are. And we can do it."

He likes the diversified offense

Even with the graduation of Artose Pinner, the SEC's top rusher last season, Lorenzen expects UK's offense to be more potent. Hudson had Kansas State among the nation's top scoring teams every year, and Lorenzen likes the diversified offense, including more runs by the quarterback, that Hudson uses. He's also got no problems with Boyd getting snaps and him moving to receiver on some plays as Brooks insists the Cats will do.

"Without a doubt, this is the best offense I've played in with the best offensive mind behind it," Lorenzen said. "Coach (Hal) Mumme's offense was a great offense, but it was not a complete offense. This offense has everything. It gives the quarterback complete authority to do what he wants.

"The only thing holding us back is coach Hudson's imagination. However creative and imaginative he wants to be, that's how creative this offense can be."

Lorenzen knows playing for different coaches and coordinators could enhance his chances to playing in the NFL because of all the things he's seen and learned. However, before chasing his life-long dream of a professional career, he wants to go bowling with Kentucky.

"It would be great to go out on a bowl team. Last year, we should have gone to a bowl and it would have been fun, but we were ineligible," Lorenzen said. "Most of the seniors now were being redshirted when we went to the Music City Bowl.

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