Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Joe didn’t always have his coaches’ trust. In fact, he wasn’t even listed on the team’s depth chart before the season opener.
“I was a little upset, but I couldn’t get down,” Joe said. “I just went out to practice every day, kept working hard, and that’s all I could do … I have great parents. They always say, ‘Hey, keep a positive attitude.’ That’s what I’ve been doing.”
Now, Joe’s emerging as a key offensive contributor. He finally got his chance to play in the midst of a blowout against No. 4 TCU. On his first play, he burned his man on a post route for a 21-yard touchdown. Joe scored the Longhorns’ only touchdown that day, which turned out to be all he needed to earn his coaches’ faith.
“[Play-caller Jay Norvell] just told me ‘great job, way to be ready,’” Joe said. “I feel like I did a great job taking advantage of it. [Norvell] [then] came up to me and said, ‘Hey, start the OU game’.”
Joe once again seized his opportunity against No. 17 Oklahoma. While he made just one catch for nine yards, he shined in his downfield run blocking. His biggest moment came while sparking senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson’s 24-yard touchdown with a critical block.
“I told him after I scored that ‘that was you — you got the guy out of the way,’” Johnson said. “He’s been making the most of his opportunities since he’s been out there. Blocking was what we needed for Oklahoma and that’s what he took advantage of … he’s just been capitalizing in back-to-back games.”
The Longhorns want to run the football, and Joe’s blocking is bound to earn him more playing time. At 6-foot-2-inches, 202 pounds, he has the size and strength to shield off defensive backs and give his running backs more room to run. But, Joe’s blocking isn’t his biggest asset. Instead, it’s his positive attitude. His coaches and teammates consistently praise his ability to lift the team’s spirits — both on the field and from the sideline. In the midst of a 2-4 season, the Longhorns need that type of positivity.
“He brings so much energy,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He’s always positive, always upbeat, got a smile on his face … he’s so fun to be around.”
Joe’s attitude translates to practice. Eager to show his skills, he gives extraordinary effort every day. His coaches value his work ethic. More importantly, his teammates look up to him.
“He’s certainly a great example to the rest of the team,” Norvell said. “He hadn’t played a lot in the first part of this season, but he’s worked his tail off and had a great attitude. When you do that, you’re ready when your opportunity comes, and he has been.”
The Longhorns have a variety of receivers to choose from, but they hope to incorporate Joe more going forward. Joe said he’s getting equal first-team reps during practices. But, he’s not concerned with playing time. He just wants to see the team win.
“No matter who is playing out there, we’re all going to support each other,” Joe said. “As long as we’re out there winning and going out there and competing every day, that’s all I care about.”