From NAIA to 3-star recruit, Carlton Lorenz hits his stride

Right now, Carlton Lorenz is a three-star recruit to play offensive tackle and has received 14 offers since going the junior college route. Out of high school, this didn’t seem likely. He wasn’t a big star out of his southern-California high school and the best offer he could get was a chance with Robert Morris University. No, not the Robert Morris you’re thinking of, but Robert Morris in Illinois — the NAIA program.

This is a level of competition that’s, for the most part, flooded with guys that are playing up to their highest potentials. Some guys stand out right away, but they’re few and far between. Lorenz himself didn’t even stand out at RMU. The offensive lineman moved to a blocking tight end role, but nothing really stuck with him until he started looking at how he was putting on weight.

Lorenz came to RMU at 246 pounds and left closer to 260. It wasn’t a great 260 either, Lorenz told MAC Prospectus. But he did, however, see what he could be. If he could just be responsible about putting on weight and growing into being a better lineman, then he’s one tough year away from springing himself onto an NCAA Division-I roster. That’s always been the goal anyway.

“You’ve gotta treat both (eating and lifting) like a job,” Lorenz said. “You eat whenever you can, and when you’re not eating, you’re lifting.” When Lorenz transferred to the College of the Canyons — much closer to home — he weighed 255 pounds. One junior college season and many, many servings of rice and steak later, he’s up to 290.

“I try to eat 4,000-5,000 calories per day. I’m usually closer to 5,000.”

At the time of the interview, Central Michigan was his most-recent scholarship offer (12th overall). Now, his list is as large as 14 total offers that all come from: Liberty, New Mexico State, Indiana State, Abilene Christian, Kent State, Youngstown State, UAB, North Texas, UTEP, Ball State, Louisiana-Lafayette, CMU, Vanderbilt and New Mexico.

“I’m super excited to see Central and go see Lafayette — those are two that I’m definitely going to take visits to and I’m super excited about,” said Lorenz.

“The pictures and talking to the coaches on the phone only does so much, but when you get there you get to really know a lot about the school, the program, the community, so that’s a big deal for when I go out there and I’ll have more of an idea once I see those two places.”

Lorenz is a big guy, obviously. He’s 6-foot-5, you could imagine him being closer to 300 at the start of the 2018 season. He can move some from the right tackle spot and was sometimes used to pull to the left side in JUCO and is best at run blocking.

Since he was given a redshirt as a freshman at RMU, Lorenze is a three-for-three guy, which is a big advantage to have over other May graduates that only have two years of eligibility to give.

All of this really builds up to a unique profile. Lorenz goes from being someone who could’ve washed in NAIA to being a promising recruit within a year and a half and is the physical freak you wouldn’t have expected coming out of high school. It’s hard to think of somebody who went the JUCO route from the NAIA grind, because these types of players hardly come around, if ever. And on top of that, he’s succeeding.

And because he’s doing so well for himself, it’s hard to not think back on his old teammates at RMU and imagine how well they’d play at the next level.

“I think there are some players in NAIA who could play at the D-I level. We had a kid from Toledo (Michael Berry), a tight end who didn’t play a lot there and just wanted to go somewhere he could play and he came to Robert Morris. He was our starting tight end. Undersized guy but heck of a football player. We had a couple of defensive linemen that I think, after playing against some other guys in JUCO that went D-I , that they were just as good, if not better. You wouldn’t think of it, but you’d be surprised.

“There’s a lot of good players. And on the other side of things, there are some guys where you could tell that this is about as high as they could play football,” Lorenz said.

But Lorenz is above the fray in that regard. He was young and smart enough to see what he could become and decided to gamble his future in football because there’s no upward mobility for him in NAIA.

Lorenz expects to pick a school in the next two to three weeks, then after finishing up his classes at College of the Canyons, he’ll move straight out to whichever college town he’ll be staying at for the next three years. Then he’ll step on the field and keep grinding, keep lifting and keep eating.

“Coming from not playing a lot in high school to going NAIA to coming back home and betting on myself, changing my body and getting to where I want to be — I think that shows that I’m a really hard worker.”

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