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Lynch prepares for football (finally) after Notre Dame

May 16, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT


It’s been a long time since we’ve seen defensive end Aaron Lynch on the football field. After a freshman All-American season for the Irish, Lynch left South Bend in the middle of spring practice and headed home to South Florida.

The soap opera surrounding the decision to transfer, which included social media pleas to stay by his mother, New York Giants All-Pro Justin Tuck, a young fiance in South Florida, and a firm line held by Irish head coach Brian Kelly, ended with Lynch enrolling at South Florida after finishing his spring semester at Notre Dame.

Lynch expected to play for USF head coach Skip Holtz. But after a disappointing 2012 season where the Bulls staggered to a 3-9 record, Holtz was relieved of his duties and South Florida hired Willie Taggart to run the program.

After a nice run at Western Kentucky, Taggart has energized the Bulls program. And while the media has raved about the work Taggart has done since taking over, the best recruit Taggert landed was the transfer student he inherited.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman caught up with Taggart, who had some interesting things to say about Lynch’s maturation and preparation while discussing the state of his football team. The whole interview is worth a read, but here’s a snippet that really caught my attention.

Q: (Aaron Lynch) was this five-star recruit and a freshman All-American at Notre Dame. How was he compared to what your expectations of him were once you get him out on the field?

Taggart: He was even more. Some of things he does. He just has a natural feel for the game. He plays with fanatical effort. He just goes. I know if he continues to play with that fanatical effort, the sky is the limit for him.

He is really good with his hands. He’s quick and really long. And the other thing that was impressive was he was doing things with knee braces on. I make all of our linemen practice with knee braces, and he was still getting it done.

Q: I noticed you guys list him at 244 (pounds). Did he lose a lot of weight when he got there?

Taggart. Yes, he did. He played at 270 at ND. In the year that he had off, he wasn’t really motivated to do anything, from what I was told and heard from everyone. He’d tell you that he wasn’t really locked in, knowing that he couldn’t play. Now, doing what he’s doing and hearing some of that noise about how he can be this or be that, he’s really taking pride in trying to be the best football player he can be.

Q: Do you want to see him back up in the 260s?

Taggart: I’d like him in the 250-260 range. He’s well put together. When he walked in the door the first time I saw him, I was like, ‘Wow!’ Without even watching him on film, you could see what everybody’s talking about. Then you watch him on film — Jeez!

He’s built like Jevon Kearse. He’s long and lean and athletic but he can put on the weight. In the spring he actually played at like 235. I think he’s at 245 now.

He has not been an issue at all. He sees the future in front of him and knows that he has a really bright future if he keeps his head on straight. He goes in the weight room and he works.

It’s probably not a surprise to Notre Dame fans that Lynch dropped 35 pounds during his self imposed sabbatical. That Taggart would openly say that Lynch, “wasn’t really motivated to do anything, from what I was told and heard from everyone,” is some pretty open candor about a player that never seemed the most disciplined to begin with, and points to a pretty inactive year off, after playing at a still-room-to-grow 270 pounds as a freshman.

What’s also no surprise are the rave reviews Lynch gets from the USF staff. Taggart talked about the lessons he’s been giving Lynch since he arrived in Tampa, especially with Lynch now a young married man with a future that’s very much in his hands.

The new USF coach probably puts it best when he tells Feldman, “I don’t talk about football much with him. I don’t think he’d fail at football. It’d either be something either academically or socially that could get in his way. In football, he’s a beast out there, so you just try to make sure he has everything else in perspective and help make sure that he’s a great husband because that’s something that is important to me. We talk about that constantly.”

Lynch’s on-field development took a major detour last season. It’s hard to imagine that he’d still be worried about adding bulk — Taggart wants him playing in the 260 range — if he had stayed in the Irish development cycle.

Yet after all the drama that’s surrounded Lynch and his departure from Notre Dame, it’ll be fun to get a chance to finally play football again, even if it isn’t for the team Irish fans hoped.


  1. irishdodger - May 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    I wish him the best & hope he doesn’t get distracted by off-the-field stuff. Kid is a beast. If he keeps his head on straight, I believe he’ll be a better pro than Clowney, Jarvis Jones & Alec Olgletree.

  2. dudeacow - May 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    He’s gonna be crazy good. Since he’s playing in the AAC, there won’t be as much talent he’ll be put up against, so he’s my pick to be this year’s sack leader. I wish he stayed and ND, but being a Florida guy myself, I understand 9 months of sub-zero temperature can get to you. Now beast it up the next TWO years (finish your degree!!), and THEN be a first round pick. Best of luck.

    • dickasman - May 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Yeah but he’s lazy, immature and unmotivated. Lawrence Taylor on crack was more motivated to workout and practice. I’m sure he’s a good student and person though.

    • dickasman - May 16, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      Also, by the sound of the weight loss, he may have picked up a coke habit

    • nudeman - May 16, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      Emphatically disagree on “crazy good”
      He’s proven himself to be a quitter, lacking discipline and the ability to play in a team structure, a polarizing teammate, and wildly unpopular in the locker room. That stuff doesn’t just disappear because a guy goes pro.

      Barring injury he’ll probably go 1st round but I can see him getting his ass kicked in training vets who can’t stand him.

      The NFL won’t be an easy transition for Lynch

  3. dickasman - May 16, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    In hindsight, probably better for all parties. I know this much, i bet he wishes he had hoax baby mama after seeing the first child support payment bill. At least he’s in a good republican state for that.

  4. bernhtp - May 16, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Lynch, as a freshman, wasn’t good for the ND Football team despite his amazing talent and abilities. He was undisciplined, didn’t take coaching well, wanted to play his style instead of execute his position responsibilities, was unrepentant about his numerous personal fouls, and generally was a me instead of a team guy. I don’t thing that ND would have gone 12-0 with that Aaron Lynch on the team because much of the success came from cohesive teamwork and magic.

    Taggart seems to believe that Aaron has grown up a lot since then. I hope so. If he has, Lynch will be a complete beast and certainly stand out on an otherwise far less talented USF team. My guess is that his plans for USF are very short term. He wants to have a big year and then cash in with a first round NFL contract.

    • nudeman - May 16, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      Let’s review the tape on Lynch:
      1) Came to ND, EE’d and bitched about being there almost from day 1
      2) Numerous fights with teammates and even students. Was hated in locker room and on campus
      3) Quit on his team in Spring practice. Then, came back a few days later
      4) Then quit again, went to 2nd tier program that 5 years ago no one had ever heard of
      5) Per reports, didn’t do squat the year he was off, dropped down to 235 and is out of shape
      6) Coach at USF got fired so he tried to quit on THEM and go back to the first program he quit on
      7) ND teammates, coaches and probably ball boys said “NFW” about him returning
      8) As far as Taggart believing he’s matured, as best as I can tell that’s because he cut his afro

      So despite the prodigious talent, no one wants his ass. And in a year he’s going to be in an NFL camp?
      Can you imagine how a guy like Ray Lewis would chew him up and spit him out in camp?
      Lynch would then cry and ask for a trade. Because … that’s who he is and what he does

      Sorry, I wish him no ill will but at this point he’s a loser
      I don’t care how fast he is, how great his quick twitch skills are.

      • nudeman - May 16, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        That smiley face with the shades came from was supposed to be #8.
        That’s been a bug here (or on WordPress) for a couple years now.

        Can you get someone to fix that?

      • bernhtp - May 17, 2013 at 6:40 AM

        I can’t disagree with any of your points.

        BTW: that not a bug but an emoticon feature of WordPress. Try 8. next time.

    • nudeman - May 17, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      the emoticon is what was published when i wrote “8”.

  5. seanb20124 - May 16, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I never heard anything but good things about him from Notre Dame, Now I’m hearing that he is some kind of layabout.

  6. shaunodame - May 16, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Anyone else dreaming about how dominant our D-Line could have been this year with Nix, Tuitt, & Lynch?!


    • ibleedirish - May 17, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      A 235 lb DE in a 3-4? No thanks. I’ll take Day, Vanderdoes etc. over Lynch any day. Aaron Lynch was good at pass rushing. That’s it. Horrible against the run. On non-passing downs he was an absolute liability. At 235 lbs, he may not even be a good pass rusher anymore. Sad waste of talent so far. I hope for his sake he turns it around.

  7. glorygreyhound - May 16, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Who cares about lynch? Have more words ever been written about a one-year stint? I’d rather introduce dock adman to my mom.

  8. fnc111 - May 18, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    He’ll be drafted no higher than the fourth round next year. Hopefully to Green Bay. He has a lot to prove over the next nine months. NFL teams know all about this baby. They’re watching.

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