Lorenzo Ward begins his sixth season with the Gamecocks and his third season in charge of the Gamecock defense. Ward was originally named defensive coordinator on January 12, 2009, working under Assistant Head Coach-Defense Ellis Johnson. He focused on the Gamecock cornerbacks in 2011 after being responsible for both the cornerback and free safeties in each of the previous two campaigns.
Despite losing all of his linebackers to graduation, the 2013 Carolina defense ranked second in the SEC and 12th in the nation in scoring defense (20.3 ppg) and fifth in the SEC and 19th in the country in total defense (350.0 ypg). The squad held 11 of its 13 opponents to below their season scoring average while intercepting 18 passes. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney both earned first-team All-SEC accolades. In addition, Quarles and Clowney each earned a first-team spot on an All-American team, becoming just the second Carolina teammates to earn All-America distinction in the same season.
In 2012, the Gamecocks were ranked in the top-25 nationally in all four statistical categories - 11th in total defense and 13th in scoring defense, 17th in rushing defense and 21st in passing defense. The unit was led by All-American defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, the Hendricks Award winner, who had a school-record 13 of the team's school-record 43 sacks, the nation's fifth-highest total.
Ward helped guide a defensive unit that finished the 2011 season with the nation's third-best rated defense, one that surrendered just 268 yards per contest. Carolina boasted the nation's second-best pass defense and ranked 11th in the country allowing just 18.4 points per game. In addition, Carolina forced 32 turnovers. In his debut as the man in charge of the defense, he limited Nebraska to 13 points and 253 yards of offense, and shut them out over the final three quarters while allowing just 64 yards in the second half of the 2012 Capital One Bowl game.
Ward helped lead a Gamecock defense that scored six defensive touchdowns during the 2010 season, a school record, with two scored by his secondary (Stephon Gilmore, D.J. Swearinger). Gilmore was cited as an All-SEC selection during his sophomore campaign.
In his first season at Carolina, Ward's unit helped the Gamecocks rank eighth in the nation in pass defense. In addition, the Gamecocks finished in the upper half in the SEC in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. Individually, Gilmore earned first-team Freshman All-America accolades.
Ward came to South Carolina after spending one season as the secondary coach on Bobby Petrino's staff at Arkansas. Prior to that, he was on Art Shell's staff with the NFL's Oakland Raiders in 2006.
A former player at Alabama, Ward coached the secondary under Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech for seven seasons from 1999-2005, with five of his players earning All-Big East honors and one making the All-ACC squad. The Hokies led the nation in total defense, were third in pass defense and second in pass efficiency defense in 2005.
The 2004 Hokie defense ranked fourth in the nation in both pass defense and interceptions. In 2002, the Hokies led the nation with 24 interceptions. The 2001 defense was No. 2 in the nation in total defense while the 2000 unit was No. 3 in interceptions. The 1999 defense was No. 3 in total defense and No. 7 in pass efficiency defense.
From 1994-99, Ward was an assistant at UT-Chattanooga, including a two-year stint (1998-99) as defensive coordinator and defensive backfield coach. He coached the defensive backs from 1994-96 and the running backs in 1997. He also coached kickoff coverage and the punt team.
Ward played at Alabama from 1986-89, helping the Crimson Tide go 33-15 with an SEC title in 1989. The Sporting News named him Special Teams Player of the Year following his senior season as Alabama's unit was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under the tutelage of Ellis Johnson at Alabama in 1991, working with the defensive backs, before going to Newnan (Ga.) High School as an assistant in 1992, where he also coached the track team. He returned to Alabama as a graduate assistant in the fall of 1993, working with the outside linebackers, before going to Chattanooga.
Ward earned his bachelor's in physical education from Alabama in 1991.
Ward and his wife, Tara, have one son, Lorenzo Jr.