University of Louisville junior defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin is usually the one doing the hitting, but two weeks ago that wasn't the case. Mauldin was the victim of a hit and run, getting knocked off his moped by a car in an accident on Floyd Street.
Mauldin spent a night in the hospital but once the tests came back positive, and everything was clear, he was hungry to get back on the field.
"That's all I could think about to be honest, the first game, and not letting my teammates down, because I know they need me" Mauldin said." I just kept telling myself over and over again: I have to get better, so I stayed in the training room, and got better day by day."
Mauldin was back at practice – around his teammates – just over 24 hours after the accident and was practicing two days later. But that didn't mean his teammates went without stress over the condition of their teammate.
Junior Calvin Pryor said because of the strong bond between the players – the family-like atmosphere – that football wasn't on anyone's mind when U of L head coach Charlie Strong told them about Mauldin's accident.
"It's real, and that's my brother, and I wouldn't want anything to happen to my brother, and vice versa," Pryor said. "As a team, and as brothers we all came together and prayed about the situation, and kept him in our spirits."
Added Strong: "When I first heard about the accident, I jumped out of my seat, and rushed down to the (accident site) hospital as quickly as I could."
Mauldin said he feels "very lucky," because he came out of the incident with just bumps and bruises and he's been a leader of the U of L defense in two games.
A starter on defense, Mauldin had six tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss and a sack in two games. He's been a huge key on getting pressure on the opponents quarterback.
"He goes 110 percent all the time," Strong said.
Mauldin said when he approaches the line of scrimmage the only thing in his mind is executing his assignment. Mauldin said he can't get enough of being in the opposing team's backfield during a game.
"I love being in the backfield, and being able to come off the ball, and being able to get back there is like a breath of fresh air" Mauldin said. "Everything blacks out when I come off the line, then I open my eyes, and I'm in the backfield making a play."
Not only is Lorenzo setting the bar high for himself this season, but the defense as a whole is chasing perfection. The Cardinals held EKU to just 206 total yards last weekend.
"That's exactly what we're doing, before each game we set goals, and for this game we had a list of goals, six sacks, hold the team to less than 150 yards" Mauldin said. "That's pretty much what we're doing, chasing perfection."
The U of L defense will get another test this weekend when the Cardinals face Kentucky on Saturday at noon in Commonwealth Stadium.
"UK is a football team just like everybody else, that's all we can do is prepare for them, and go out and perform like we did today" Mauldin said.
Mauldin said since his return from the accident that he's learned he can't take anything for granted and much go all out, all of the time.