A little over a week ago, we got news that Notre Dame's standout defensive lineman Aaron Lynch was absent from practice. Now, a bigger bomb has been dropped on the Fighting Irish. Lynch is going to leave the school following the spring semester:
#NotreDame DE Aaron Lynch has left the football team and will transfer to another school following the spring semester.
— Brian Hardin (@NDHardin) April 13, 2012
That's not a good thing for a Notre Dame squad expected to have a stout defensive front going into 2012.
In 2011, Lynch was an absolute playmaker. As a true freshman, he set the pace for the Irish on getting to the quarterback with 5.5 sacks. He also put up seven tackles for loss and 33 total tackles and caused trouble with 14 quarterback hurries. 2012 was setting up to be a banner year for the kid who was one of the crown jewels of Brian Kelly's 2011 recruiting haul.
With this news the Irish will have to insert a new player into the long stick defensive end for their 3-4. Chase Hounshell, Sheldon Day and Kapron Lewis-Moore will be the players looked at to step up.
Day is a freshman, in for spring, and likely has the most potential as a 4-star kid out of Indiana. However, asking him to fill Lynch's shoes is a tremendous task. Hounshell is the backup on the depth chart, but the sophomore has no experience. Lewis-Moore is a fifth-year senior that has the ability to play significant snaps but lacks the raw talent Lynch brought to the table.
Regardless of who gets the nod as the Irish move forward without Lynch, they will be taking a step back as a defensive line. That means Manti Te'o, the All-American linebacker, just had his life made a bit more difficult in the 3-4 scheme. Lynch was not only well adept at getting to the quarterback, but he was a force that occupied blockers and helped let Te'o run free for tackles as well.
With the spring game fast approaching, everyone will get good look at how the Irish plan to fill the gap.
Brian Kelly had this to say about the Lynch departure:
Brian Kelly on Aaron Lynch: "You can’t make it at Notre Dame if your head & heart are not here."..Not sure you can make it anywhere that way.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) April 13, 2012
The coach is right. Needing your head and heart to be in what you're doing and where you're doing it is a must at Notre Dame and in the big-time football world in general. Playing college football is a tough job. There are rewards and fun to be had, but if you don't want to be at the school you're playing at or playing for the coach you're working with, things can get miserable in a hurry.
Whatever the true reasons for leaving are, let's hope Lynch finds a place he can be happy and successful, as the young man is a heck of a football player.