Given the significant upgrade in prep football talent, Kentucky is now relevant in the national recruiting dialogue. Following this pleasant rise, I started thinking about past Kentucky stars that developed into UK legends. So, I dusted off the old Rolodex (contact list for you young’uns) and dialed up former in-state high school football players that later developed into UK stars. I presented them with six questions focusing mainly on why they chose UK.
Segment One will feature Jared Lorenzen, Marty Moore, and Donte Key. Segment Two will have comments from Tim Couch, Chris Chenault, and Pookie Jones. Segment Three includes Andy Murray and Dennis Johnson.
Donte Key, LB, Franklin Simpson – As a Wildcat, Donte is best known for his game saving interception that secured Kentucky’s victory in 1994’s inaugural Governor’s Cup. At Franklin Simpson, Key was an all-state, two way performer and a must get for Bill Curry. Donte followed the same path as former home-town greats Joker Phillips, Lester Boyd, and Kerry Beard by signing with Kentucky. He picked the Cats over UCLA and Tennessee. Today, Mr. Key still lives in Lexington and works as a Federal Probation and Parole Officer.
Q: Why did you sign with Kentucky?
Key: The Fans. On a visit to a game, some random person yelled across the parking lot to me which surprised me that they knew who I was and said, “Come play for the Cats, we love you.”
Q: What is your best memory from your UK playing days?
Key: Being a part of the rebirth of the UL rivalry game, which we won!
Q: What has being a UK Football alumnus done for your life after football?
Key: Staying in Lexington has been great and people know you and watched you play. Still being recognized has opened some great opportunities for me and my family.
Jared Lorenzen, QB, Fort Thomas Highlands – Tim Couch’s records were perceived as untouchable but they didn’t last long as the Highlands High School All American and Mr. Football quickly scorched through previous milestones. Upon his campus arrival, Jared immediately captured BBN hearts by his larger than life personality. And, the kid could flat out play. Lorenzen departed Lexington as UK’s all-time leader in several passing categories. As a professional, his career pinnacled when his New York Giants won the Super Bowl. Throughout the years, Jared has remained universally revered and is a KSR regular.
Q: Other than Kentucky, what were your final five schools you considered prior to signing with the Cats?
Lorenzen: The U (Miami), Wisconsin, Boston College, Michigan, and Michigan State.
Q:What was that one moment when you were certain that you wanted to be a Wildcat?
Lorenzen: Hal Mumme was the first coach to call my house on the day it was allowable. He called me at 12:01, just after midnight. I thought if he took the time to call me now and wanted me that badly, then I had to give this serious thought. Plus, it did help that they had the greatest QB in the country there, Tim Couch.
Q: Why did you sign with UK?
Lorenzen: Easiest question I get asked. Why? Because I wanted to continue the tradition that Tim and Hal had started. Playing for the home state team doesn’t get any better. I was playing in front of my family and friends every single game, you can’t describe in words what that is like.
Marty Moore, LB, Fort Thomas Highlands-Another Bluebird superstar. Moore was a high school All American and one of the nation’s most coveted middle linebackers. At UK, the Wildcat team captain recorded the fourth most tackles in school history and later won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. After a lengthy NFL career, Marty returned to Lexington and tirelessly gives back to the community through his involvement in youth football as well as his Kentucky NFL Hall of Fame endeavors. Originally committed to Alabama, Moose had offers from UT, Michigan St, and several other national powers but eventually signed with Kentucky.
Q: Why did you sign with UK?
Moore: I signed with UK because I felt like it was the right place for me so that my family and friends would be able to watch me play. The other reason was I felt like I could make a difference in helping UK get on a winning track with consistent bowl game appearances. Also it just felt so right once I was on campus.
Q: What is your favorite UK memory?
Moore: My best memory of UK is standing in front of my teammates after a team meeting at the end of my junior year. I made a commitment to them to work hard to push every one of them to get better and to get us to a bowl game my senior year. That meeting led to several players leaving the team who didn’t want to be there but brought the rest of us together. That year we all worked extremely hard to achieve our goal (Peach Bowl). Other memories I have is playing in front of 60,000 people as the BBN cheered and chanted my name. It is a special feeling to be able to go out on the field after 20 years and have people remember you and what you did at UK.
Q: What advice would you give your son if he is facing the same decision as you were at 17 years old?
Moore: The biggest thing kids don’t realize is at 18 years old is how much life you have after your football career is over. Playing at UK was wonderful but it has helped me in my career after football. Much due to the fact that people know who you are and followed you at UK. Obviously you need to do well at UK but playing there helped to land my first job after my pro career and I have gotten doors opened just due to the fact of me playing at UK. If you excel at UK in the classroom and played at UK, businesses will give you an opportunity.
More interviews to follow. Stay tuned for Segment Two.