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Making a big splash

Kentucky freshman Lorenzen not your average QB

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Latest: Saturday September 02, 2000 03:24 PM

  Jared Lorenzen Jared Lorenzen won the starting job because of his ability to throw the deep ball. CNNSI.com

By John Donovan, CNNSI.com

First off, you need to know this: Jared Lorenzen loves to run. Loves it. And that, unfortunately, is a bit of bad news for anyone in the Southeastern Conference not in a Kentucky uniform.

Secondly, to get a full scouting report on Lorenzen, it's important to know that he loves to throw the football even more than he likes to run it. His coach, Kentucky's Hal Mumme, has seen Lorenzen, on the 50-yard line, zip a pass to a receiver on the goal line.

Lorenzen, Mumme quickly notes, was on his knees.

Thirdly -- and this is important -- Lorenzen is ... well, this isn't exactly a secret anymore. The young gun from Northern Kentucky, who will be one of the most closely watched athletes in America this college football fall, is rather sizeable.

Jared Lorenzen -- you'll know his name before long -- is 275 pounds of raw, strong-armed, big-gutted quarterback.

Two hundred seventy five pounds.

Yikes.

Yes, Kentucky has a starting quarterback who is bigger than many offensive linemen, bigger than most defensive linemen he'll face. Bigger, you have to figure, than a couple of punters stuck together.

He is, in fact, bigger than any quarterback in the NFL. Ever.

"That is real big. I can't think of anybody that's close to that," says Jonathan Smith, Oregon State's 5-foot-11 quarterback who checks in at a diminutive 195 pounds or so. "I'd like to see him play. See how he moves. I'd like to see how easy he comes down."

That, of course, is a huge question -- how easily the 6-foot-4 Lorenzen will navigate a busted backfield full of angry defensive ends wanting to make a name for themselves. Still, that's not the only question facing Lorenzen.

 
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The redshirt freshman who stood the sidelines as former starter Dusty Bonner topped the SEC in passing last season is being called too inexperienced. He's been tabbed the "Green Giant" because he hasn't played a game since 1998, when he led his Highlands High School team to a state title as a senior.

And to make matters more difficult, Kentucky's pro-style offense is not exactly handing off to a big back and watching the cloud of dust. There are timed patterns, multiple receivers, hot-reads, three-step, five-step, seven-step and every other -step drops you can think of.

How will the big guy handle it?

"He's gonna learn some lessons. We're going to take some licks because of it," Mumme says. "But I think he's gonna be fine. You can just tell by his demeanor."

Lorenzen, a QB since he was 5 years old, thinks he'll be fine, too. He's looking forward to throwing, and throwing a lot. He's looking forward, in fact, to leading the SEC in passing.

And, yes, he's looking forward to rolling pockets (it's in the playbook), sidestepping some rushers, if need be, and taking off when the situation calls for it.

 

"If we're dropping back, and the middle of the field drops wide open, I'm going to run, just to keep the defense honest," he says.

"I'll get my 10-15 yards and get down," he vows.

Still, Lorenzen admits it'll be hard to slide when a 180-pound stick of a safety is trying to put the hit on him.

"You see guys you weigh 70, 80 more pounds [than] ... I want to run them over," he says. "But the smart thing to do is to keep your body safe."

Then there's the question of "escapability," as coaches like to call it. When the whole pocket is collapsing around him, can a quarterback with a belly that proudly pops from his jersey -- jersey No. 22, as if you could miss it -- be nimble enough to get out?

On the other side, the argument goes, a 275-pounder is not going to be sacked with an arm tackle. He's not going to lose the ball with a swipe of a taped hand.

A player only a few quarter-pounders shy of the big 3-oh-oh is not going to crumble to the turf from a little tap.

"When guys take a shot at him in the pocket, he can break a tackle and then maybe escape slightly," Mumme says. "Remember, this is a guy who can throw it 80 yards. They better stay with coverage."

Lorenzen beat out Bonner, who succeeded Tim Couch, mainly because of his arm strength. Bonner was a dinker. Lorenzen will go long.

"The offense is just pure passing. Everyone in America knows what we are going to do," Lorenzen says. "We're going to test everyone deep, 12-15 times a game. And if it's there, we're going to keep doing it. If not, we'll dump it off.

"Granted, I will get burned. But I'm gonna learn as I go."

So will the other teams. Facing a quarterback of that size and girth will be a new experience for just about everybody.

Lorenzen certainly has been a hot topic for this week's opponents, cross-state rival Louisville.

"That's fine. I always get it. Hopefully, defensive coordinators around America are thinking 'Man, he's big. He can't do anything else,'" Lorenzen says. "Hopefully, I get to prove some people wrong, that big is good."

Whatever happens, Mumme's decision to go with Lorenzen, and stick with him as he learns the intricacies of Kentucky's offense, may well end up being as exciting to watch this season as watching Lorenzen on a bootleg.

And, yeah. That's in the playbook, too.

Check out CNN's "College Football Preview" at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday for more on Jared Lorenzen.

And check back every Thursday throughout the season for another Rising Star feature.


 
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