Sunday, October 24, 1999

NORTHERN KY. INSIDER


Smith, Lorenzen happy to bide time on UK bench

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jared Lorenzen and Derek Smith seemed inextricably linked last fall: teammates on Highlands' state champion football team, top-two finishers in Mr.Football voting, equally ballyhooed University of Kentucky signees. That their symmetry has now shifted to the sideline bothers neither.

        Lorenzen is willingly accepting a red-shirt season as a Wildcats quarterback, and Smith is content playing special teams and being a back-up tight end. When you're winning, patience is no problem.

        “You want to go in to vie for a spot, but as a freshman, being a backup is totally unbelievable,” Smith said. “I'm real happy and I'm learning a lot.”

        Said Lorenzen: “Everything about redshirting has been good. I'm working out and getting a year of school under my belt.”

        Each became a reserve because of superb efforts from other Wildcats. Third-year sophomore Dusty Bonner ranks among the nation's top 11 passers in completions, yardage, touchdowns, passing efficiency and total offense, and senior James Whalen Jr. is on pace to set two national receiving records for tight ends.

        Smith and fellow freshman Bobby Blizzard have been Whalen's backups. Smith, who plays about 10 snaps per game offensively, had three catches for 27 yards entering Saturday's game — including a 23-yarder last week on a fake punt from Newport Central Catholic grad A.J. Simon.

        Smith also plays kickoff returns, punt coverage and field-goal attempts.

        “Whalen's a great tight end,” Smith said. “I'm looking at it as me being very lucky to be able to learn from him.”

        Lorenzen runs the scout team each day in practice against UK's first-string defense. He is involved in a conditioning program that's not so much designed to cut weight — Lorenzen says he weighs 250 or 255 pounds — as to reshape it.

        “They've lowered my body fat,” he said. “Now instead of being big, I'm more muscular.”

        Though he's redshirting, Lorenzen travels with the team. He and the other QBs are utilized on game days, watching certain parts of the defense and suggesting plays.

        “It'll happen 2-3 times a game, me suggesting something that gets used,” he said. “It helps to have us all look for holes to attack.”

        With Bonner such a success, Lorenzen acknowledges he might have to wait until 2001 to start.

        “That's not a bad scenario,” he said. “I only started at Highlands for two years. At most Division I colleges, you're lucky to start two years.”

        Smith has been questioned about the possibility he'll walk on in basketball this winter. Basketball coach Tubby Smith said he's welcome to, as long as football coach Hal Mumme approves.

        “It's something that'll have to wait until after football season's over,” Derek Smith said. “I'll sit down and talk to coach Mumme.

        If I think it's going to hurt me from becoming a better football player, I don't think I'll play (basketball). But if everything works out, I'll give it a try.”

        Smith said the possibility of a bowl game wouldn't impact his decision, though it might mean reporting for basketball a month late.

        With no true backup for Tayshaun Prince at small forward, the Wildcats could use Smith's 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame. It's likely he could see more time in basketball than in football.

        “I think I would go into it hoping to contribute a lot,” he said. “It'd be stupidity if I went out (for basketball) just to sit the bench.”

        SIMON SAYS "SI': Speaking of Simon's fake punt pass to Smith, it earned Simon a mention in Sports Illustrated this week.

        The magazine highlights his 5-for-5 career mark converting fakes. UK is 9-of-11 on fake punts in the Mumme era, including 9-of-9 when the ball is snapped to the upback.

        COLEMAN MULLS RETIREMENT: Bellevue football coach Charlie Coleman knows of the rumors he will retire after this season.

        “It's all speculation,” he said. “But I'm not saying I wouldn't do it.

        “This is my 28th year (in teaching and coaching), and in Kentucky you can retire at 27, so I could have retired last year. I'm going to take it one year at a time. I have no plans to, but no plans not to.”

        Coleman, 51, began his coaching career as a Newport assistant in 1972. He came to Bellevue in '74, left to become head coach at Rowan County in '84, then returned to take Bellevue's reins in '86.

        Coleman (90-71 career) admits winning a state title this fall could be the way to go out. Bellevue (9-0) is ranked No.2 in Class A this fall.

        Coleman was an assistant when the Tigers won Class A crowns in '77 and '79 and head coach when it finished runner-up in '90.

        “I'll wait 'till winter or early spring to make a decision, then go from there,” he said.

        GOLF STARS: A team of local women has qualified for the American Cancer Society national golf championship.

        The Kenton County team of Cynthia Rorer, Margaret Wilkerson, Deana Clarke and Katie Kruer qualified by winning the state team title last month at Eagles Trace Golf Course in Morehead, Ky. The national tournament is scheduled for Dec. 3-4 in Palm Desert, Calif.

        Rorer and Wilkerson were members of a team last year that finished as national runner-up.

        Neil Schmidt is The Enquirer's Northern Kentucky sports reporter. Call him at 578-5582 or send e-mail to nschmidt@enquirer.com.

       



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