Lorenz Thrilled to Assume Starting Role

With three offensive linemen leaving this season, there are some big shoes to fill on Coach Jim Hueber's unit. One of the players expected to start next year is right tackle Mike Lorenz, who can't wait to take on a bigger role after paying his dues the last three seasons.

When Mike Lorenz arrived at Wisconsin three years ago, he knew he could spend a lot of time paying his dues.

But after a redshirt season and two years in a backup capacity, Lorenz is thrilled to have his named bumped up to starter status with the departure of Jason Jowers.

Lorenz, a 6-5, 301-pound right tackle from Manitowoc, Wis., has been diligently working towards this opportunity from the day he arrived in Madison.

"I am excited about it. I've been trying to concentrate more in practice and work better and better, knowing next year I will get the opportunity," Lorenz said. "It makes practice a little more interesting, a little more upbeat and I'm working harder and harder."

Despite having to sit on the sidelines for the majority of his redshirt sophomore season, Lorenz thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities he had – including a stint at tight end for the final six games of the year.

"I really enjoyed (my sophomore year)," Lorenz said. "I was always ready whenever Jason would go down. I would be in there ready to step up and go. Then they moved me to tight end. That was a thrill for me, getting out on the field, getting some hitting in and stuff like that. That was really enjoyable."

Lorenz said the move to tight end was a surprise, but the conversation with Offensive Line Coach Jim Hueber was not a lengthy one.

"One day I came into the office and he said, `I want to put you at tight end and block this guy, alright?' I was like, `Alright,' and got in there," Lorenz said.

Lorenz said the nature of Wisconsin's tight end position made the transition a breeze. The extra playing time should benefit him as he prepares to move back to right tackle, where he practiced the majority of December in preparation for the Alamo Bowl.

While Lorenz played left tackle in high school, and now has played some tight end, he feels right tackle is his best position.

"That's what I'm shooting for. I've been at right tackle the last two years, so naturally I feel more comfortable in the right-hand stance," Lorenz said. "But being a tight end this year, a tight end can go with a right or left-handed stance, so I feel comfortable with either-or."

Lorenz said being a second-string player the last couple of years was made easier by the fact that he knew the players ahead of him were first-class players headed for the NFL.

And he has done his best to soak up everything he can from the older players, particularly Ben Johnson.

"He's been the most (influential) by far. The guy is always there, he's right next to my locker, I talk to him all the time and he's very helpful. If you have a question about anything, even off the field, he's a great guy and helped me out a lot."

Lorenz said despite the graduation of three starters from the offensive line (Ben Johnson, Al Johnson and Jason Jowers), he expects the unit to be a strength of the team next season.

"We have a good offensive line. We have great chemistry. We get along really well, poke fun of each other, we always have a lot of fun and a good time," Lorenz said. "And we have some really good football players (stepping into the vacant positions)…I'm just always working to get better. I always try to improve my pass protection. I try to get better and better at that, and getting my hands inside. That's what I have been concentrating on."

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