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Football: Lynch leaves team, will transfer at semester’s end

Matt DeFranks | Monday, April 16, 2012

When sophomore defensive end Aaron Lynch missed practice April 4, rumors began to swirl. Now, what was first feared has been realized – Lynch is transferring, the football program announced Friday morning.

“Your head and your heart has to be in it to be a Notre Dame student-athlete,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “The challenges are great here and if your head and heart is not in it, you just can’t be successful here.”

Lynch will finish the spring semester at Notre Dame before transferring elsewhere.

“I want to thank coach Kelly for giving me this great opportunity to attend Notre Dame and be part of the Fighting Irish football family,” Lynch said in a statement. “This was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make, but I want to go back home to Florida. I’m grateful to Coach Kelly for understanding and allowing me to return home.”

Last season, Lynch racked up a team-high 5.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries while earning playing time in 12 games.

“Aaron and I talked about it and mutually agreed that the best decision for him is to leave the football team, which he has decided to do,” Kelly said. “He’ll finish out the semester … and then he’ll pursue other opportunities.”

Kelly said it was more of a comfort level issue rather than a geographical problem.

Over Easter break, Kelly sent Lynch home to his mother in Ohio to think about what he wanted to do. He also said he did a similar thing with sophomore linebacker Ishaq Williams earlier this year following winter break. Williams remains a part of the Irish defense.

Lynch had an up-and-down recruiting journey that ultimately led him to the Irish. Initially, he was committed to Notre Dame before switching to Florida State and then enrolling early last year with the Irish.

Kelly said all the players know what they signed up for when they come to Notre Dame.

“We’re laying our cards on the table,” Kelly said. “We’re not going to come in and say ‘You don’t have to live in the dorms.’ No, you have to live in the dorms. We don’t say ‘Hey, it’s easy in the classroom, don’t worry about it.’ We don’t say ‘Don’t worry about it, it never snows here.'”

Kelly said the terms of Lynch’s release have not yet been decided upon yet.

“We’re not going to hold him back and take his future away from him,” Kelly said. “We’ll discuss that. That’s the next stage which we’ll get into and start talking about those issues.”

While Florida State remains an option, Bulls 247 says Lynch could potentially land at South Florida. The Bulls defeated Notre Dame 23-20 in last year’s season-opener.

With Lynch’s departure, Irish fifth-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore will move back into the starting lineup. Juniors Louis Nix, Kona Schwenke, sophomore Stephon Tuitt and freshman Sheldon Day will have to take on expanded roles on the defensive line.

“We feel really blessed that we’re able to feel really good about our defensive line even losing a really good player like Aaron Lynch,” Kelly said.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu