Vaught's Views: Lorenzen helped create opportunities for others

November 25, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - He's set school and conference passing records, become nationally known almost as much for his weight as his playing ability, and been part of two quarterback controversies during his career at Kentucky.

However, what quarterback Jared Lorenzen may remember the most, and be the proudest of, when his UK career ends is the opportunity he's created for others.

No longer are players that don't fit the traditional quarterback mold sent to play tight end, fullback or the interior line just because they weigh 240 or more pounds. Instead, players like Cole Draughn of Pulaski County are now given a chance to show they can play quarterback, too, because of what Lorenzen has done.

"Five years ago, heavy-set players may not have got that chance," said Lorenzen. "It is kind of neat that some of the people now playing quarterback might not have got to do that if I had not been here. It's actually kind of neat to think I might have had something to do with giving them a chance.


"It's fun to watch the bigger kids play. Bigger kids come up to me now and say, 'I never had a chance to play quarterback until you started playing.' That's kind of cool and brings a tear to your eyes to know that you have helped others. It's something not many people can say."

Lorenzen is used to having people say a lot more about him. He's been blamed for not being able to produce wins in close games. He's been criticized for being out of shape. He's been the brunt of playful nicknames from opponents and media members.

He was elevated to the starting position before his redshirt freshman season. Then coach Hal Mumme decided to bench returning starter Dusty Bonner in place of Lorenzen. When Mumme was forced to resign before Lorenzen's sophomore season, new coach Guy Morriss decided to bench Lorenzen in favor of Shane Boyd early in the season before Lorenzen regained the job for good later that year.

"There's never been much peace and quiet here, that's for sure," Lorenzen said. "But that's good. It keeps you on your toes. With what myself and Shane went through, we've still remained good friends. We still talk all the time. It didn't pull us apart as much as it did me and Dusty.

"Dusty and I were not that close when he was here. Now we are extremely close. When it was all going on, we weren't close to where we could talk. He realizes now it wasn't anything he did or I did. It's just that coaches make decisions that players don't always understand."

He's been careful not to criticize Brooks or Hudson

He probably wishes he could have thrown more this year, but he's been careful not to criticize new coach Rich Brooks or offensive coordinator Ron Hudson. Instead, he's consistently praised Brooks and recently said that while he felt comfortable talking with Brooks, he would never speak to Morriss again because of the way he abandoned the team after the Cats went 7-5 in 2002.

Yet if he's bitter about anything, he hides it well.

"I had so much fun," said Lorenzen. "I went through a lot of turmoil, stuff with coaches and the NCAA sanctions. But I've always had fun.

"I've got to throw the ball a ton. I've run the ball a ton, too. I've got to do both this year. It will be fun to come back for reunions and talk about all that stuff."

His mother has a scrapbook full of his exploits along with the high school championships he won at Highlands. He says he'll appreciate that more years from now when he sits down with his infant daughter to show her what he did in college.

"What I can't believe is that my career is almost over," Lorenzen said. "I can still remember getting nervous for the first game against Louisville my freshman year. I can't believe this week is it."

He's been part of just one winning team. His first two years Kentucky won just four games total. However, he's never let losing change his fun-loving approach to football.

"I've had a lot of fun. All I've really tried to do is win games and make it exciting," Lorenzen said. "I've tried to do just about everything there is. I've thrown one behind my head. I've thrown it backwards. I've thrown it right-handed. I love having fun. I love being a kid. I love just going out there and drawing in the dirt and making plays up.

"I might not have had the big wins that (former UK quarterback Tim) Couch did, but I've had some pretty historic games. I think I've helped bring a lot of attention to the university, too. All the nicknames, all the sports shows, they've brought publicity here that should help recruiting. I would not trade this for the world. I've had an absolute blast here."

Lorenzen has been a blast to watch, too, because he has helped revolutionize his position, and he's tried to do whatever he could to help Kentucky win.

"I hope people will remember me in a good way," Lorenzen said. "All I've really tried to do is win games and make it exciting. I just hope people realize that I gave my all for this university and that I had a lot of fun while I was doing it."

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