Friday, July 5, 2019

Remembering the Hefty Lefty

By Jean Neuberger

I was all set to write an article when, sadly, something happened that changed the entire trajectory of things.

Kentucky legend Jared Lorenzen passed away on Wednesday. He was just 38.

Many people remember him for his nicknames. The Hefty Lefty. The Pillsbury Throwboy. The Round Mound of Touchdown.

I won't remember him for his nicknames. I will remember him for something completely different: a night that seems to reflect on his life.

On the evening of November 1, 2003 Arkansas and Kentucky would play the longest game in NCAA history. What started as an average, fairly quiet football game turned into an incredible showcase of talent between Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones and Lorenzen.

Jones was a tall, lanky kid who had deceptive running speed and a surprisingly great touch. Lorenzen looked like an offensive lineman-turned-quarterback on the field that night in Lexington. However, those who watched the game found out that he was a terrific passer and quite a good scrambler, as well.

Lorenzen threw for 326 yards, going 28-of-49 with 2 touchdowns and just 1 interception. And, given his size, he was extremely difficult trying to take down. Hence, as the game wore on and multiple overtimes proceeded, Lorenzen's size played a huge advantage. He was able to run for three scores on a tired Arkansas defense that couldn't contain his bulldozing mentality.

As the game entered the seventh overtime, Arkansas found a way to score a touchdown and converted a critical two-point conversion, taking an 8-point lead. Lorenzen tried once again to will the Wildcats forward. However, on fourth down, the Arkansas defensive line held firm. Lorenzen was stripped by Arkansas LB Tony Bua, ending the game.

The Razorbacks won. But Lorenzen's heroics were never to be forgotten. He flat out carried his team on his back during those overtimes, pouring his heart and soul, refusing to give in until the last play.

And, during his struggles with his weight, Lorenzen did the same. He fought. He clawed. He scratched. At a point where he was near 600 lbs and in grave shape, he lost over 100 pounds and tried gallantly to win his health back, right until the end.

I will remember Jared Lorenzen as a gritty, tireless fighter. Someone who, in the midst of struggle, kept grinding. And, despite his setbacks in football and life, his tenacity will be what those admire most about him and will be his enduring legacy.

RIP, Jared.

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