Where are they now? Catching up with former UK, Highlands football star Jared Lorenzen
From Super Bowl Giants to River Monsters
Shannon Russell | WCPO contributor
7:00 AM, Apr 12, 2017
FORT THOMAS, Ky. -- Life has taken different twists and turns for 36-year-old Jared Lorenzen, the former Highlands High School and University of Kentucky standout and NFL quarterback, but he couldn't be more satisfied with the way everything has turned out.
Is he experienced in the ways of the world? Yes. Still sort of youthful? Not exactly, he said. "Tell my knees and back and body that," Lorenzen said, laughing.
He's the same old Lorenzen -- cheerful, friendly, sarcastic -- as he navigates an existence outside the realm of professional football. His last game was in 2014 with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters in the now-defunct Continental Indoor Football League.
Lorenzen became an Internet sensation in the season opener due to his surprising agility at 320 pounds.
The buzz ended soon after when an Erie Explosion defender tackled Lorenzen low and knocked him down hard on the concrete-like playing surface of what's now BB&T Arena. The impact left Lorenzen with a broken right tibia.
"It was a nice, clean hit. I just didn't get low enough," Lorenzen said.
Doctors inserted a plate and six screws in his leg and repaired ligament damage in his foot. Lying in his hospital bed two days after surgery, the aging football star made a decision. His playing days were over.
"My daughter (Taylar) was getting me a Gatorade and I decided, 'I'm done.' I took a little personal inventory and I'd said I'd play until I got hurt. I was very, very lucky to not get hurt until I was 30 years old trying to still play. It was time to stop."
Today, Taylar is 14 and runs him "all over the state for softball." His 7-year-old son, Tayden, has football fever. Lorenzen is divorced and living in Fort Thomas, the same place he'd been a Highland High School phenom years ago.
Lorenzen's story took an interesting turn after his record-setting college career. Although the "Hefty Lefty" was not selected in the 2004 NFL draft, he signed with the New York Giants as a free agent and won a Super Bowl XLII ring for the 2007 season backing up Eli Manning.
When his NFL prospects dried up in 2008, Lorenzen embarked on managerial stints with indoor football league teams. He quit those roles in order to play.
Sometimes Lorenzen is amazed by his circuitous journey.
Would he change anything? Make a different decision that would have altered his career?
Never, Lorenzen said. He has so many good memories.
"I'm a freshman, 18 years old, and I throw for 528 (yards) against Georgia, which is one of the best defenses in the country at the time," Lorenzen said. "And then you get to the NFL and within three years, all of a sudden you're in the Super Bowl and playing against an undefeated Tom Brady. It's, like, 'What in the world is going on?' And then literally 3 years later, I'm playing in an Arena (Football) game in Eastern Kentucky. It's just a bizarre, bizarre way it went -- but I think it was awesome."
These days Lorenzen works in sales. He's an HVAC and plumbing manufacturing rep for HBB Pro Sales Group, and his territory spans the state of Kentucky. Not surprisingly, many of his clients like to discuss Kentucky football.
And it's always interesting in Louisville, Lorenzen said, laughing.
"Those guys have been good, and I give them pretty good grief," Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen also has a retail business. He and two partners started ThrowboyTees.com, a riff on his "Pillsbury Throwboy" nickname. The shirts have regional relevance, from "That's so Bullitt County" T-shirts to "Make Cincinnati Great Again" ball caps.
One of the most popular products is a T-shirt that says "Man Crush Everyday" with a picture of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Another fan favorite is the shirt with images of the state of Kentucky, scissors and a basketball net.
Lorenzen said the company tries not to push the envelope too far, on behalf of kids who might be surfing online. And if there's one lesson he's learned in the apparel biz, it's that hot ideas don't always translate to hot sales.
"You think some shirt will absolutely kill it and we'll sell two shirts. And then something that says 'Puke' instead of 'Duke' will sell 50 shirts. It's, like, 'What in the world?' You make them and see what happens," Lorenzen said.
When he's not working, Lorenzen helps coach his son's football team. Someday he'd like to be involved at the high school level -- but if a coaching opportunity never materializes, he won't sweat it.
In the meantime, he's having fun bantering with fans on Twitter and living life a bit north of 320 pounds.
"I try to have a lot of fun no matter what the heck I'm doing. I try to be as playful as I can," Lorenzen said. "There's always a reason why stuff is Tweeted out; there's always a reason I'm doing something. But I'm just me. I'm as approachable as it gets, and if there is something people want to know about me, I'll sit down and talk to anyone."