From the day he flipped his commitment from Florida State in January 2011, Aaron Lynch and Notre Dame were never a perfect match. The Sunshine State native never meshed with the special characteristics of Notre Dame that make it arguably the most unique program in major college football.
Notre Dame Director of Football Media Relations Brian Hardin confirmed on Friday morning what many had feared since Lynch’s arrival in South Bend 15 months ago. After as promising a freshman season an Irish player has ever had, Lynch will transfer following the end of the academic semester.
In reality, the hope was never for Lynch to be a four-year player and graduate from Notre Dame. The goal was to simply for him make it through his junior season in 2013 and then head off to the NFL. It wasn’t even close.
Some major program, likely in the South, will add an absolute stud to its defensive line after Lynch sits out the 2012 season. As for Notre Dame, they will lose one of the best young defensive players in college football.
The effects of Lynch’s departure are numerous. Kapron Lewis-Moore is now back to being a full-time starter. Sophomore Stephon Tuitt now becomes the focal point of opposing offensive lines rather than Lynch.
Early-enrollee freshman Sheldon Day may now be unable to redshirt with Kona Schwenke needing to focus more on defensive end instead of nose tackle. Incoming freshman Jarron Jones may now work strictly with the defense when he arrives in the summer.
Outside of tight end, defensive end was Notre Dame’s greatest position of strength 24 hours ago. Now, there are a ton of questions to be answered, with only a week remaining before a three-and-a-half month hiatus from the practice field.
As an alumnus of Notre Dame, I can assure you it isn’t for everyone. If I had grown up in Florida instead of Pennsylvania and were one of the best football players in the country instead of just a fan of the sport, I don’t think I would have ended up in South Bend. It’s demanding, it’s cold, and it hasn’t seen a major bowl victory in 20 years.
That said, Notre Dame is a very special place if you take advantages of what it has to offer. Lynch never allowed himself to capitalize on those advantages, and now Irish fans are left to wonder what might have been.
No program has been left at the altar more than Notre Dame over the past few months. Long-time verbal commitments Ronald Darby, Taylor Decker, and Deontay Greenberry signed with Florida State, Ohio State, and Houston respectively. Early enrollee Tee Shepard left school in March after less than two months. Perhaps, Lynch’s departure is becoming more of the norm than the exception.
The only positive from today is that it happened now instead of in August. While the team has only one more week of practice, at least the coaches can prepare for the season and recruit for future seasons over the summer months knowing Lynch is no longer in the picture.
This was going to happen eventually, so Notre Dame can now put it behind them and move on. We know Lynch will have sunnier days ahead, both literally and figuratively. For Notre Dame, it’s just another dark cloud.
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