Now a junior, Lynch figures to be a major contributor at tight end in 2012, and teammates call him a leader in the locker room.
His past has prepared him for the present.
His relationship with his father ended when he was 14 for reasons Lynch doesn’t discuss publicly. He didn’t leave the split feeling bitter, instead opting to focus his energy on strengthening the bonds he held with his mother and grandfather.
He grew into a top-ranked high school tight end hailing from Dartmouth, Mass., with offers from schools across the nation. Lynch chose to uproot for the University of Georgia. A new culture, a new pace, a whole new world – Lynch went with his gut and ventured more than 1,000 miles to a new home.
Following his freshman season, a year in which he saw the field a decent amount for a newcomer, Lynch faced a stacked depth chart with limited opportunities.
He decided to redshirt and opted for an increased work routine in the weight room to get better.
None of those decisions were easy. But perhaps the biggest test of all happened during his sophomore year, just prior to his choice to redshirt.
In August of 2010, with fall camp fully in gear, Lynch nearly left the program altogether. He picks the story up from that point…
“On the first day of camp Coach (Mark) Richt said he was glad to see me there because he didn’t know if I was going to be there or not. But I gave it a shot. I came back, and I met with Coach Richt. The first day of class was that Monday, and I didn’t go to class because I didn’t want to affect my eligibility. I didn’t know how that worked. I called all the coaches and let them know I was thinking of leaving.
I went to see Coach Richt, and he was very helpful, very supportive. I basically went into his office to say goodbye and everything.
That day everybody was going to Ramsey (for the annual team swimming and diving day), and I wasn’t at the team meeting. Everybody thought I had left; everybody thought I was gone.
At no point were the coaches ever like, ‘Why do you want to leave?’ It was the second time I had proposed the idea to (tight ends) coach (John) Lilly, and he really thought I was going to leave.
I told myself to go through camp and see how I did, how I fared. I thought I had a very good camp, but I just felt something – like something was missing. It was a lack of confidence in myself rather than what the coaches had in me.
A big thing for me was home. I missed home a lot, just being so far away with certain things going on with my friends and family. But I realized you never run away from a problem. One conversation I had with Coach Richt stood out. We talked about if I would have had a lot of regret and that was the thing – am I going to have more regret going or staying? It was one of those things; it was definitely a tough decision.
To stay here and go through that; it was different. I think from a social standpoint, people I met here and the relationships I made, and I did get to play as a true freshman –
I just think my expectations were so high for myself. When I didn’t meet them I was kind of taken back and not satisfied with myself. That’s why I was so discouraged. I don’t think it had anything to do with the coaches or the other players. I think what it was for me was just kind of an inner battle. The only one that was saying ‘leave’ was me. My mom and grandfather and everyone else was saying: ‘Stay, stay, stay’. My little cousin was finally what did it for me. He told me I had chosen Georgia for a reason and to stick it out… just to follow my heart. It sounds corny, but it’s kind of what I did – just go with my gut feeling. I was definitely in a bad place. I was in my room going over it and calling people.
I’ll never forget it. The last day of camp was a Saturday. We all went bowling. I was just sitting there in a kind of in a trance. It was already rumored that I might leave, and people were coming up to me talking about it.
I called Coach Richt again and called Coach Lilly. I told them I felt it was better if I stayed, and I ended up redshirting. That was a whole different ordeal.
It’s one of those things where you’ve got to trust yourself, your family and your faith. It comes down basically to a gut feeling. Hopefully it will work out.
You’ve got to get over that hump. It is a hump. You’re asking, ‘Am I in the right position?’ That’s the thing: once you decide to stay all those questions go away. Then it’s easy to go on and get over it.
Honestly it’s worked out for the best. I’ve been able to grab on to the some opportunities here that I never thought I would, and that I never even thought existed at Georgia. I’m excited to see where it goes. It’s obviously not over yet.”