LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — What I remember about Jared Lorenzen was to never take my eyes off him for 60 minutes.
You did so at great risk of missing the most remarkable, unnecessary and unforgettable play of any University of Kentucky football game.
Might be a pass with extra sizzle because Lorenzen certainly had extra sizzle in that thunderous left arm.
Might be a pass with absolutely no sizzle because Lorenzen had no hesitation floating one if floating the ball was the wisest way to get the football to his receiver.
Might be Lorenzen tucking the ball in his left arm and roaring into a pile of tacklers as if he was storming a castle.
Of course, even while carrying 300 (or so) pounds, he could also tippy toe and swivel. He dodged tacklers who never understood Lorenzen could do the nimble thing as consistently as he did it for the Wildcats.
That over-the-shoulder toss in the UGA game will always be a part of UK football folklore. Just one of those plays that always stuck out pic.twitter.com/1Y5lZ0REt9— Travis Graf (@Trav_Graf) July 3, 2019
Right-handed pass? Check. No-look, falling down fling? Watch the famous Georgia film. Whatever was required to move the chains. Check, check, check.
That’s the Jared Lorenzen that I remembered and celebrated Wednesday after the horrible news arrived that he died from a string of health issues in Northern Kentucky.
Just 38 years old.
A crusher. One of those tragedies everybody hoped was not true. Lorenzen battled, often publicly and honestly, with eating disorders as vigorously as he battled for extra yardage. You always saw that Warrior part of his DNA, even before he said his weight soared over 500 pounds.
Now you hope people honor Lorenzen by living their lives as fearlessly and relentlessly as Lorenzen played for and then supported the University of Kentucky. Playing for Kentucky mattered to him. You saw that, too.
Jared Lorenzen was not afraid to fail. That’s another thing I’ll remember about him. Win or lose, Lorenzen showed up to answer questions after a game. He wouldn’t duck a challenge or avoid taking responsibility. Nobody had to tell him that he made a great throw — or a dumb one.
I cannot believe that Jared Lorenzen died today. So sad. Such a legend and nice person. He was kind to my youngest. I’ll never forget that. Rest In Peace, big fella. @UKFootball Prayers for his friends and family @KySportsRadio @ryanlemond @ShannonTheDude @DrewFranklinKSR #BBN— Drew Mahan (@drewmahan) July 3, 2019
Lorenzen was not the quarterback who followed Tim Couch with the Wildcats for the 2000 season. One year of Dusty Bonner separated the end of the Couch Era from the start of four record-breaking seasons of Lorenzen.
But one season was not enough to make anxious fans stop comparing every Kentucky quarterback who jogged on to the Commonwealth Stadium turf to Couch.
Lorenzen was wider than Couch. He didn’t throw the ball as accurately as Couch. He didn’t rocket to the top of the NFL Draft lists like Couch. Couch looked like the first pick in the draft. Lorenzen looked like he escaped from the meeting room for nose tackles.
Lorenzen didn’t care. Just hand him a helmet and shoulder pads. The playbook was optional because sometimes it seemed as if Lorenzen made it up as the game developed. That, as much as his size, explained his charm.
Lorenzen was not a game manager. He wasn’t a robot. He was a creator. That added to the love Kentucky fans had for him. He played the position like a kid trying to win the neighborhood sandlot game on Thanksgiving morning.
He was invested in Kentucky football. He proved it by coming to Lexington with high school teammate Derek Smith from Fort Thomas Highlands when Hal Mumme needed as many top prospects as possible from within the state to believe in his Air Raid attack.
He believed in Mumme. But he believed even more in Kentucky football and its potential to be a legitimate player in the Southeastern Conference.
He proved It by signing with Kentucky, and he kept proving it by staying all four seasons while playing for Mumme, Guy Morriss and Rich Brooks.
It wasn’t always easy. Everybody wasn’t thrilled when Lorenzen went off script. But he delivered, setting those school records for total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Hang an extra star next to that 2002 season. Lorenzen threw for 24 touchdowns and only five picks — and the Wildcats opened the season by toppling Louisville in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in a game they were not supposed to win. If you were there on that steamy Sept. 1 afternoon you remember the way Lorenzen kept bounding off guys who tried to drag him to the turf.
Then they followed it up by handling Indiana, Arkansas and Mississippi State on their way to seven wins. The Wildcats wouldn’t win seven times again until 2006.
Lorenzen’s name remains sprinkled across the Kentucky record book. So does his irrepressible spirit as a guy who loved Kentucky football as much as Kentucky football fans loved him.
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