Tight end Arthur Lynch offers absolutely no false pretenses.
When he was asked to suit up for the scout team during his redshirt year last fall, the Massachusetts native was none to pleased
After all, when he signed with the Bulldogs in February of 2009, he did so as one of the nation's top tight end prospects. Scout team? This wasn't the way it was supposed to be.
"It was tough. I'm not going to sit here and say I was the best sport about it. I definitely felt some sort of animosity, not towards any of the coaches or players, but almost towards myself like what did I do to put myself in this situation," Lynch said. "But now, I think the coaches put my best interest in their mind and I think that's what ended up happening. I'm better for it."
Lessons were definitely learned.
In the year that's passed since Lynch was asked to redshirt, the 6-foot-5, 272-pounder says he's matured in ways he can barely describe - both on and off the field.
"It was one of the hardest things I had to do since I've been here. You come in, you've got high expectations, no matter who you are all through high school, so it's definitely different," Lynch said. "It wasn't the easiest thing to do but for me personally, not only physically but mentally I grew in both aspects. I got better as a football player but also as a person. I grew a lot."
Position coach John Lilly concurred.
Not only did Lynch accept his position and use it for his betterment, but he followed it up with a strong spring, one which Lilly believes could wind up being a turning point for his career.
"The spring was really a big time for him. Aron (White) missed a little bit of time in the spring with a little bit of a deal in his knee, so he got basically half the reps where he would have been splitting them," Lilly said. "He went from getting a third to getting a half and that was the time I feel he really grew as a player and I think probably being away from it, and you can ask him, he'll probably tell you 'Man, I haven't played for a year and a half' so he's hungry as much as anything else."
Still, the path Lynch had to travel proved humbling nonetheless.
But after a while, Lynch started to think about his situation differently; if he wasn't going to be able to play, he would try to take advantage of his scout team opportunity to learn lessons he might ordinarily have not had the chance to do.
"It is an advantage over people who have not redshirted, because I have gone against the first team D. It's kind of cool to hear their calls and see what they're doing," he said. "You're an offensive player, but on the scout team you're really not there to learn offense, you're there to create a good look for that first-team D, so it's cool to kind of work your way with the defense and kind of excel on that."
But simply going through the motions for the first team defense wasn't quite Lynch's style. The competitive nature in him would not allow that.
"Especially going against the first-team D, when you're out there you want to make them look bad," Lynch said. "If I saw Coach (Todd) Grantham mad, it kind of put a smile on my face."
Don't get Lynch wrong.
His efforts to anger Grantham wasn't due to some lack of respect. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
"Coach Grantham is one of my favorite people. For some reason I just relate to him in a weird way," Lynch said. "His personality and my personality are very similar and his knowledge of this game is just astronomical. I ask him questions all the time about guys like Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. Even though he didn't actually coach them, he was on the staff and went against them every day in practice so I'm always trying to pick his brain. Everyone on the team wants to play in the league."
Understanding his strengths and how he fits into the Bulldogs' offensive scheme is another aspect of Lynch's game he feels has grown in the past year.
Instead of trying to be Orson Charles or White, he's focused solely on his own personal skill set and has since stopped trying to be a player he's not.
"My objective as a football player is different from what it is for Orson and Aron, just because our skill sets are different. Obviously, they want me to do the things that they can do to the best of my ability, but I think we're different types of players," he said. "I think my attribute is my physicality and ability to block so hopefully in short yardage and goal line I'll be able to go in there and they'll be able to run behind me."
If that happens, Lynch will consider his journey worthwhile.
"That's one way for me to get on the field, but also special time. Over time, I hope it will be a good rotation. Orson is definitely the type of guy who can play anywhere, and that's a testament to him and really Aron, too, for the talent they posses," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to find my way on the field and I think I will. If I keep working hard and have a good attitude about it, only good things can happen."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]