Op-Ed

‘22 is more than a number.’ How UK should honor the legendary Jared Lorenzen.

Photo slideshow: Kentucky’s Jared Lorenzen through the years

A look at beloved Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen through the years. Lorenzen died at the age of 38 on July 3, 2019. Music: https://www.bensound.com
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A look at beloved Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen through the years. Lorenzen died at the age of 38 on July 3, 2019. Music: https://www.bensound.com

Dear Mr. Barnhart and Coach Stoops,

It isn’t just about the 862 completions or the 90 total touchdowns. Or even the 10,354 passing yards.

It isn’t about the no-look over the shoulder passes, shuffle passes, or passes thrown simply because, in his mind, everyone was always open. He defied gravity and could tiptoe or tarantella through the defensive lineman he’d just trucked, but it isn’t about that either.

The seven overtimes, the win at Louisville, still sitting on the field two hours after the Florida loss; not just about that either. The nicknames; you know them, the Commonwealth knows them, all of America knows them; not just about those either.

This is simply about 22, because in Big Blue Nation, 22 will forever be more than a number.

It’s the emblem of childhood dreams cast from Fort Thomas to Paintsville to Hickman and everywhere in-between; an invitation to the youth across the Bluegrass to believe they too are capable of absolutely anything. 22 is more than a number. It is a symbol of transcendence; the reminder that ordinary people like us can become extraordinary; the reminder that impossible says I’m possible.

22 is more than a number.

It is the mark of authenticity, the badge of public vulnerability and the image of honesty.

22 is more than a number.

It is the reminder that we will not ultimately be judged by our accolades and accomplishments, our wins or losses, but by how we made the people around us feel about themselves.

22 is more than a number.

It is the embodiment of being a great player, and more importantly a great fan, and even more importantly a great person. Imperfect, yet still able to achieve greatness.

22 is more than a number.

22 may be laid to rest, but as long as BBN lives, so will 22, because when he wore it, the Commonwealth of Kentucky wore it with him. And somehow, even though he took the jersey off after four years, none of us did.

22 is more than a number.

Imagine a forever where 22 confidently walks out of the tunnel’s shadows to the roar of 61,000, team behind him, fireworks blazing as the smoke clears, reminding us all as the fight song begins that we too are capable of anything.

22 is more than just a number.

So, I plead, Mr. Barnhart and Coach Stoops, do the right thing by solidifying that 22 is more than a number and honorably mandate one of two things: Either all UK starting quarterbacks wear 22 indefinitely or the team votes yearly on who embodies the passion, leadership, and fight 22 did, allowing that player the privilege to wear it all season.

In doing so, 22 will officially become what it has been to BBN since he wore it; legendary. In a way only BBN can understand, this simply must be done, or “ya’ll gonna miss one hell of a game.”

J. Christian Postel is the grandson of Wayne Bell, the late WLEX sportscaster who pioneered the Adolph Rupp show, and the son of Chuck Postel who played football for UK from 1974-78. He is a lifelong UK fan and lives in Lexington with his wife and daughter.

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