Football: Lynch handles new challenges
Andrew Owens | Tuesday, April 19, 2011
As an early enrollee, Aaron Lynch faced a difficult transition when he entered Notre Dame this spring. With the rest of campus already settled in and adapted to their surroundings, the academic, social and athletic pressures might have seemed even more difficult for Lynch to conquer.
However, in his first performance as a collegiate football player, Lynch showed no signs of being overwhelmed by the rigors of adapting to University life.
The 6-foot-6, 260 pounds defensive end out of Cape Coral, Fla. tallied seven tackles, one-and-a-half of which were for a loss in the 82nd annual Blue-Gold Game Saturday. He added one quarterback hurry and, on a few occasions, forced his way past blockers to put freshman quarterback Andrew Hendrix on the ground.
“He’s going to be a great player,” Hendrix said after the game. “I told him in the locker room, ‘I can’t wait to see you do that against other people because I’ve had enough of that.’ [Being rushed by Lynch] got kind of tiring — he put a lick on me a few times, so I guess I’m glad that’s over with.”
Irish coach Brian Kelly suggested fans temper their expectations of the rising freshman, though, who just turned 18 years old on March 8.
“You know, we’ve got to go slow with him,” he said. “The one thing that he did today is he went against our first offensive linemen. He went against [junior] Trevor Robinson and [senior] Taylor Dever.”
Even Kelly, however, could not help but look ahead to the type of career Lynch is projected to have.
“But you saw, we moved him around,” Kelly said. “He played inside; he played outside. He’s going to be a great addition.”
Lynch, rated the third-best defensive end in last year’s recruiting class by Rivals.com, was one of the most highly touted and coveted players in the nation. After originally committing to Notre Dame, he changed his pledge to Florida State before eventually deciding to rejoin the Irish recruiting haul. At the National Signing Day press conference, Kelly could not help but sing Lynch’s praises.
“He’s not even hit where he can be as a defensive lineman,” he said on Feb. 2. “He’s just playing with raw athletic ability, being tenacious all the time. And he’s always getting after it. And we’ll be able to develop him in his skill at that position as well.”
Lynch has already added 15 lbs. of strength to his frame since leaving high school. He will need to continue to bulk up now that he is facing bigger, stronger competition at the college level.
“Here I’m smaller than all the offensive linemen,” Lynch said during Notre Dame’s spring practice season. You can’t just use your bull rush. We go over all the techniques and the moves because you have to use those at this level. You can’t run over someone here.”
Lynch has had the advantage of assimilating into Notre Dame life with four other early enrollees — kicker Kyle Brindza, offensive lineman Brad Carrico, quarterback Everett Golson and fellow defensive standout and close friend Ishaq Williams.
Although Lynch will most likely not start for the Irish defense when Notre Dame faces South Florida in the season opener Sept. 3, his future looks bright as a key component of Kelly’s attempt to bring the program back to the elite level of college football.