Apr 23, 2012, 6:18 PM EDT
It appears that the Aaron Lynch saga is officially over.
Lynch, who walked away from the Irish football team in the middle of spring practice, visited USF this weekend while his former teammates were playing in the 83rd Blue-Gold game. The soon-to-be-sophomore, who led the Irish in sacks last season with 5.5, is still enrolled in classes at Notre Dame, but has apparently made up his mind that he’s leaving at the end of the spring semester.
While rumors swirled this weekend, it appears Lynch’s decision has been made. The official website for the South Florida Bulls made this announcement today, all but finalizing the move:
TAMPA – The University of South Florida will add transfer Aaron Lynch to its roster for the 2012 season, head coach Skip Holtz has announced. Lynch, a Cape Coral, Fla. native, intends to transfer from Notre Dame after earning Freshman All-America honors during his true freshman season in 2011.
“With Aaron originally being from Florida, we’re very familiar with the kind of player he is,” Holtz said. “Aaron had a great freshman season at Notre Dame and we’re excited to welcome him into the Bulls family.”
Lynch played in 12 games for Notre Dame last season, including the Bulls season-opening victory against the Fighting Irish, and started six. He posted 33 tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven TFL, 14 pressures, two PBU and a forced fumble en route to first-team Freshman All-America honors. Lynch probably had his most productive game of the season against Michigan St., when he posted five tackles, a sack, six pressures and a forced fumble. He also started in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida St. and tallied five tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pressure.
A highly-decorated prep player at Island Coast High School, Lynch was one of the top-ranked players coming out of high school in 2010, rated as high as the sixth-best prospect. He capped his stellar career with 31 solo tackles and 10.5 sacks en route to being named a U.S. Army All-American.
Lynch is expected to enroll in summer school at South Florida in June. After watching Amir Carlisle gain immediate eligibility, it’s expected that USF will begin immediate work on getting a similar waiver.
Heading into the weekend, it appeared there was a sliver of hope that Lynch would reconsider his decision. Between his mother’s social media outreach to former Irish defensive end Justin Tuck, and a few conversations Lynch had with parents and people close to the program, outsiders hoped that Lynch would come to his proverbial senses.
One person with no interest of holding out for Lynch was Irish head coach Brian Kelly. From the moment Lynch and Kelly discussed his departure after his brief visit home over Easter weekend, Kelly has been consistent with his sincere ability to turn the page and move quickly past the loss, a potentially immeasurable one to the Irish pass rush.
Of course, with Lynch nothing is complete until he’s on campus in Tampa this June. But it appears Lynch’s path to the NFL will no longer be a direct flight from South Bend.