Wildcat World Champion: Jared Lorenzen
Part two of a six-part series.
Over the next six weeks, UKathletics.com will be showcasing five former Kentucky student-athletes who have gone on to win major championships in their respective professional sports throughout the past year. Each Thursday, a new player will be profiled.
Never before has Kentucky athletes reined as world champions in football, baseball, basketball, golf, soccer and Olympics concurrently until now. Being a Kentucky Wildcat has become synonymous with being a champion more so now than perhaps ever. The list of former Wildcats who have won a championship this year is simply staggering; gold medal winner in the Summer 2008 Olympics Tayshaun Prince, game-four starter for the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies Joe Blanton, U.S. member of the 2008 winning Ryder Cup team J.B. Holmes, starting point-guard for the world-champion Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo, goalie for the Major League Soccer champion Columbus Crew’s Andy Gruenebaum and quarterback for the 2008 NFL world-champion New York Giants Jared Lorenzen.
At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds his senior year, Jared Lorenzen was a force to be reckoned with from the moment he took the football field at Kentucky. Blessed with a rocket arm and a knack for gritty play, Lorenzen left UK as one of its all-time great quarterbacks, with his name etched throughout the record books.
A native of Covington, Ky., Lorenzen was a celebrated recruit from Ft. Thomas Highlands, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. As a three-year letterwinner in basketball, Lorenzen led his Highlands team to the Kentucky High School Sweet 16, played at UK’s historic Rupp Arena. After claiming the State Championship on the gridiron his senior year, Lorenzen was selected Kentucky High School Mr. Football.
It didn’t take long for Lorenzen to have an impact within the lines at Commonwealth Stadium. In his freshman campaign he broke six NCAA single-season records for freshmen, including total offensive yardage, passing yardage, pass attempts and pass completions. In a dazzling display of offense at Georgia as a wide-eyed freshman, Lorenzen racked up 528 passing yards, the most passing yards accumulated in a Southeastern Conference game.
"I am going out and throwing two or three hundred balls every other day and I am always running,” Lorenzen said, as a freshman. “The weight coaches have done great with that, keeping me running to get quick feet. I am looking forward to the first game, and I think it will help a lot to get that experience. Louisville will be my first game and I know that I need to go out and get hit, just calm down my nerves a little bit."
Lorenzen took the field against in-state rival Louisville and immediately went to work. In that game Kentucky jumped out to an early lead led by two separate 34-yard touchdown passes by Lorenzen. Before spraining his thumb and having to leave the game he was able to tack on a rushing touchdown to make the score 19-7. Kentucky would go on to drop the rain-delayed game, but it was a true coming out party for Lorenzen. For the first time Wildcat fans were able to see that mighty things were in store from the left-handed quarterback.
“He is a guy who really loves the game,” former head coach Hal Mumme said after the Louisville game. “He had a smile on his face the whole game, he was joking around. He is going to be a guy who is a lot of fun to watch--I had fun watching him.”
In his second season as a starter, Lorenzen made his mark against UGA in Athens, Ga. Lorenzen scorched the Bulldogs for 377 yards passing, including three passing touchdowns, adding 61 yards and a rushing touchdown. Two weeks later, in a 56-30 win over Vanderbilt, he racked up 453 yards and six touchdowns, earning ESPN.com National Player of the Week honors. During the last five games of the season, Lorenzen averaged 391.8 yards total offense with 17 touchdowns.
Starting every game his junior season, Lorenzen earned second-team All-SEC accolades, completing 56-percent of his passes for 2,267 yards, 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He finished the season with a 1.53 interception ratio, the second-lowest in SEC history, setting a then school record by throwing 152 passes without an interception. The highlight of his junior campaign came in a 210-yard, four touchdown performance against LSU.
In his final season for Kentucky, Lorenzen continued his dominance at quarterback. He eclipsed Tim Couch for the No. 1 spot in all-time passing yardage against Murray State and in touchdown passes against Mississippi State. He set several personal season-highs in the seven-overtime thriller against Arkansas, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for three touchdowns. He finished the season as just the fourth player in SEC history to account for 10,000 yards of passing and total offense.
"Jared Lorenzen made things happen. He's an unbelievable guy - this guy is a big time player," head coach Rich Brooks said.
After being picked up by the New York Giants in 2005, Lorenzen continued to be a solid contributor. In the 2006 NFL preseason, Lorenzen engineered a game-winning drive against the Baltimore Ravens. Following that performance and an impressive training camp he was officially named the Giants backup quarterback three weeks later.
It wasn't until Dec. 30, 2006 that Lorenzen made his NFL regular-season debut, calling his number on a third and one. Lorenzen, behind his powerful legs and girthy body, bowled his way through the line and picked up the crucial first down in the 34-28 victory over the Washington Redskins. Lorenzen's first NFL touchdown came against the Philadelphia Eagles during a wild card game in another crucial third and one. Again the call was a quarterback sneak, he shifted the pile picking up his first touchdown.
In 2008, the Giants found themselves pitted against the undefeated New England Patriots in Superbowl XLII. Although Lorenzen didn't get a chance to get on the field he played a major role, signaling in offensive plays during the Giants first Superbowl win in over 17 years.
Lorenzen made an indelible impact in the heart of Wildcat fans throughout his career. When he walked off the field the last time, he ranked first in school history in career total offense (10,637), passing yardage (10,354), career completions (862) touchdown passes (78). He guided the Wildcats to seven wins in 2002, marking only the fifth time since 1954 the Wildcats reached the seven-win mark. Lorenzen holds six NCAA records, four SEC records and 11 school records.