By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops knows that former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen is one of the “most beloved and iconic players” ever at Kentucky and how special it will be to honor his memory Saturday night when the Cats host Arkansas.
“It will be an honor for us to recognize him and recognize his family this week. Just more incentive for us and for our team,” Stoops said Monday.
MarLorenzen passed away at age 38 in July. He played for coaches Hal Mumme, Guy Morris and Rich Brooks at Kentucky and put up some impressive numbers even though UK did not win an abundance of games with him at quarterback. However, he became a national figure because of his enormous weight and infectious personality.
Lorenzen was not the best player ever to play at Kentucky but he may well be the most popular player — and his popularity has soared even more after his death.
“It’s hard not to like Jared as a football player and as a person. What little I knew of him, you really liked him personally,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “And again, I don’t pretend to have a best friend relationship with him. But what I did know of him I really liked.
“He’s a beloved player here and rightfully so. I think because any player, you’re going to have respect for if they go out there and lay it on the line for your team week-in and week-out. And I think any time you go back and watch any of his films and see the things that he’s done, and trying to put the weight of the team on his shoulders and running it, passing, spinning around, tossing it, any which way to make plays for his team, it’s hard not to admire that. I think that’s what everybody remembers.
“Again, I think our team, we really try to exemplify that a little bit by playing the game the right way, respecting the game, playing it hard, laying it on the line, doing the best you can. There’s a great example of the results are the results. But it still doesn’t diminish anything by the way he played and the way he represented the university and I think we all try to do that the right way.”
Lorenzens threw for 10,354 yards at Kentucky, including 3,687 in 2000 when he led the SEC in passing as a freshman. He played two years in the NFL with the New York Giants as Eli Manning’s backup and Manning was one of many who attended Lorenzen’s funeral.
Most of today’s UK players know little, or maybe nothing, about Lorenzen. Most were not even in grade school when Lorenzen played his senior year at UK. Stoops hopes to be able to show his players some of Lorenzen’s highlights before Saturday. Stoops would like to have Lorenzen’s children and parents introduced to his team.
“Just let them know that we’re thinking about them and recognize them and really want to play well for him. So, yes, they (the players) will be shown some film (of Lorenzen)nand they will be, it will be discussed throughout the week,” Stoops said.
Stoops expects his players will admire Lorenzen just like he has once they see his highlight film. “You watch some of these highlights that are popping up and that will pop up throughout this week, and some of the highlights I’ll show the team, and you can’t help but put a smile on your face and a little chuckle because it’s like, how did he just do that?” Stoops said.
Stoops says it’s impossible to think any current Wildcat could remind anyone of Lorenzen. “I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. He’s one-of-a-kind,” Stoops said.