Milford’s Lorden hopes to shake the injury bug for Wildcats
DURHAM – Nick Lorden remembers his first play as a University of New Hampshire wide receiver.
It came two years ago in a game against the University of Maine.
A 12-yard catch. But not just any 12-yard catch.
“It was a touchdown,” the Milford native and Bishop Guertin alum said. “That was my first touchdown. My first collegiate play.”
Since then? Lorden went on that freshman year (sophomore academically) to play in 13 games, with one start, and record 12 catches for 143 yards but six TDs – second on the team – including two big TD catches vs. Towson and also two catches for a career high 46 yards in an NCAA first-round playoff game vs. Central Connecticut State.
Ah, now that’s UNH football.
“It’s electric, you know?,” Lorden said. “This atmosphere, playing in front of my home state. The fans, the culture, the environment in New Hampshire, there’s nothing like it. That’s what kind of drew me in. That’s what I love about this place, that’s what made it feel like home.”
When you’ve got your health in college football, you almost have everything, and Lorden has gone through it. He suffered through a separated shoulder two years ago vs. Holy Cross and this summer has been bothered by a bad back.
“Honestly,I’m just taking all the steps I can to get back on the field,” he said. “I’m going into my junior year (athletically), I’ve only got two more. It’s important to me. … All I’m focused on is the next step, getting healthy and getting back on the field for the first game.”
The 6-4, 228-pound Lorden isn’t sure of his timetable, but as he says, “It’s part of the game. The real test is how do you bounce back?”
Last year he also played in 10 of 11 games, but his production was limited to two catches for 12 yards.
“Nick’s been injured,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “It’s tricky right now. He was obviously getting better … Recently, he’s not been able to kick that injury bug and that’s held him back a bit. But when he’s healthy, he’s a big target who can run and catch and we want to get him healthy as soon as we can.”
Two years ago, Lorden realized right away the difference between high school and college.
“It’s a lot faster,” he said. “It comes at you fast. I’ve been trying to help these young guys, these freshmen come along. It’s coming at them fast, too. I remember how I felt, so I’m trying to do my best to help them out.”
One thing Lorden had going for him is, while he says the fast tempo is UNH’s style, it was Bishop Guertin’s style under then coach Jeff Moore when he was a senior. So he had made this change before.
“When (Moore) came in, he made it a point right when he came in and introduced himself, we were going to play fast, faster than everyone else,” Lorden said. “Faster than we think we can even play.
“And we did, and that really benefited me and helped me out coming into UNH. I was used to it. It’s what we did my senior year (at BG).”
He was a big part of that for the Cards, with 41 catches for 870 yards and 17 TDs his senior year. Still, college ball is a big change from high school. Those numbers aren’t happening right away, if at all.
“It was a lot at first,” Lorden said. “But there’s a lot of people in the field house, the coaches, some of the older guys when I got here. You’ve got a lot of resources around you, people looking to help you out, people wanting to better the team, get everyone on the same level at the same pace.”
Lorden knows the main thing to improve on is his health, but he has other things he’s targeting, too.
One may be surprising.
“Receivers spend a lot of time in practice with coaches, working on routes and catching balls,” he said. “But I’ve got to really improve my blocking in the run game. A lot of receivers don’t even think about it, but it’s a whole other part of the game. If you’re not touching the ball, you’ve got to help those who are, you know what I mean?
“It’s huge. It could be one block on the outside. If they bounce it outside, it could be between the running back and one last guy to make it to the end zone, and I have to make that block so my teammates can score.”
So now Lorden works to get back onto the practice field and then the game field. But oh, does he often think back to the Maine game.
“That was for the Musket,” he said. “That was a great team win. That’s one of my best memories playing at UNH, beating Maine and keeping the Musket here.”
He hopes to make more great memories, and when UNH faces UMaine in the final regular season game, getting that Musket they lost last year back to Durham.