The hunted becomes the hunter

KSR's Lonny Demaree checked in with quarterback turned safety Matt Lentz, to find out how the switch to safety is working for the redshirt frosh. With the move to safety Lentz has undergone a reversal of perspectives, going from being the hunted, to being the hunter on the grid.

When the University of Kentucky signed quarterback Matt Lentz from Greenville, South Carolina, given his senior year productivity of 59% passing percentage for 2,895 yards and 34 touchdowns, they though they had something. He also ran for 1,082 and 14 touchdowns. Having observed him at their camp for two summers, Joker Phillips felt that Lentz was on par with the big Clemson quarterback recruit from South Carolina, Willie Korn. Phillips then found out Lentz was the strongest quarterback on the squad.

So what happened with his ability to throw the football? Brooks said he injured his thumb on his throwing hand in a summer all-star game in South Carolina and that affected his present ability to throw the football.

"It was in a All-star game in South Carolina," Lentz said. "I was rolling out and I tucked it under and ran, when falling to the ground, I threw my hand out and my thumb hit the ground first and tore the ligaments and now sometimes it kind of tight."

Lentz said he reluctantly want to the coaches and requested the switch to free safety. How is it going for him?

"Right now I'm enjoying it because I can go back there and just play football," said Lentz. "Just trying to get a little more familiar with the coaches - I've got to study some - watch a little film - talk to my coaches about where I'm supposed to be - reading the tackles on run or pass and just trying to do my best out there."

In the scrimmage on Saturday, he had a couple hits that stood out.

"I enjoy hitting. At quarterback, I was always the one getting hit so it's nice to do the hitting for a change."

He said he got his indoctrination on hitting when he was six years old. When he got hit pretty hard, he went crying to his dad and was told if he hit them harder that they hit him, it won't hurt so bad.

He said he wasn't blaming his quarterback woes totally on the thumb. Curtis Pulley, Michael Hartline, and Will Fidler had something to do with it. So far the transition has some promise after seven practices. He already has three interceptions.

It's been such a task this spring getting running back Moncell Allen on the ground, Lentz can boast of the fact he has been the only defensive player that has the honor of taking him down one-on-one.

"He a load," a beaming Lentz expressed. "He's hard to hit but I just try to go full speed, try to hit his legs and try to bring down."

Linebacker Sam Maxwell said recently, that he doesn't have any legs. "Whatever's down there, I just try to hit that. You've just got to throw your body at him and be fearless."

Since he's at the safety position, like most players, is there anybody on the pro level or any level he would like to pattern himself after.

"I've always enjoyed watching John Lynch play," he said of the Denver Broncos free safety. "He went to Stanford (University) as a quarterback and he found out he couldn't go as a quarterback so he said he wanted to hit somebody and made the switch."

When talking to coach Chuck Smith about his linebackers, he was asked could he someday envision Lentz as a linebacker.

"Nah, I think he's done a great job," a smiling Smith said. "He's a competitor - he's a winner - you can win with him. He'll find a place to whether it's safety, whether it's linebacker, he find a place to play."

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