March 7, 2012

Patience now a virtue for Lynch

Tight end Arthur Lynch doesn't consider himself a quitter.

But there was a time, not that very long ago, when a little voice inside his head kept telling him that perhaps it would be best to leave Athens behind.

"It had nothing to do with the coaches; it had nothing to do with the University of Georgia. I love my situation here, both academically and athletically," Lynch said. "But I think it was a position I was in where I was chasing a dream, of playing at the college level and getting a shot at the next level."

Playing behind Orson Charles and Aron White, Lynch questioned whether that day would ever come.

He questioned his status so much, that he actually had convinced himself to leave and transfer, possibly closer to his home in Massachusetts, before sitting down with some people close to him, folks who ultimately convinced him to stick it out just a little bit longer.

"I sat down with Coach (Mark) Richt, I sat down with Coach (John) Lilly, and obviously my mother, my uncle and my grandfather and I kind of just weighed the options," Lynch said. "The only one saying go was me; everyone else was like if you just wait it out and patience is a virtue. But as a 19-year-old kid, you sit down and think to yourself 'Dang, when is this going to pay off?'"

Ultimately, Lynch decided to take the advice given to him and stick it out a while longer.

After taking a redshirt year in 2010, Lynch came back strong last fall, playing in 13 of Georgia's 14 games and when spring practice begins March 20, will be in a position to do something this fall he never thought would happen - start.

"The fact that I redshirted, I got the opportunity to sit back and view things from a different perspective," Lynch said. "I still practiced, still traveled with the team to the bowl, but I was able to see and benefit but being put on a pause for my career - not only from a pause in development, but also a pause from reaping the benefits of playing."

It was during his redshirt year that Lynch said something finally clicked, as for the first time he started taking into account some of his teammates who were rewarded for their patience.

"I learned it's not just about reaping instant gratification. I think that's something in college few guys really look at, guys who are starters right now, leaders on this team who didn't see instant gratification, guys like Christian Robinson, guys like Mike Gilliard; they've bought into the system, they've worked hard and look where they are now."

Jarvis Jones is another example.

"He played a little bit at USC, got hurt, redshirted here and then he was an All-American first team," Lynch said. "He waited the process out. He's a very good example of why patience is a virtue. At the same time, I think there was doubt in my mind, but I would have regretted it had I left the situation and gone elsewhere."

But just because the door is finally open for Lynch to show he can indeed become a complete tight end, he's not taking his current situation for granted.

"If anything, it's added more pressure than just a sigh of relief. Before, you try to become the starter and you work as if you're the starter, but in reality you have the idea that Orson was the guy," Lynch said. "After redshirting, I felt like some sort of an afterthought but after playing some last year, and Bruce (Figgins) moving to fullback, I got to see and things kind of became clear. So now with Aron and Orson both gone, it just adds pressure on me to become that upper-classman leader and be the one to help the other guys move along."

Lynch's star pupil this spring figures to be redshirt freshman Jay Rome before freshman Ty Smith joins the team for preseason drills in August.

"Obviously Jay, I think, will benefit from playing basketball and his body will mature a little bit. But also from a mental standpoint, he's going to need to get caught up a little bit. He's going to be coming off of basketball to football, but I'll be able to help him with that aspect," Lynch said. "Ty Smith seems like a nice kid, but he looks like a guy who is athletic and will be able to make contributions right away. Last year we had the luxury of having four guys who could play and had experience, but now the truth is I'm the only person who has game experience out of the three who are on scholarship come August."

Quarterback Aaron Murray is confident his roommate can pick right up where Charles and White left off.

"He's worked hard. He's been through some hard times, not sure if he wanted to stay or leave, if this was the right spot for him, but he's stayed through it, stuck it out and he's looking great right now," Murray said. "I think weight-wise he's feeling great. He's at 255-256 right now, he looks great running his routes; I know he's very excited. Every night he's like 'I just want to get to practice, I want to get to practice.' He's ready to go and I think he's going to show what he has."

Lynch said his current weight of 255 is almost 20 pounds lighter than what he practiced the end of last year.

"I've trimmed down the weight. I've gotten more flexible, quicker and faster but still maintain that strength to be able to succeed at the level I need to succeed at," he said. "The coaches want me between 255 and 260. It was a process. I couldn't drop it all right away, but overtime it helped with the workouts we've been doing and dieting during the week. It's been a challenge but it's gotten me where I need to be."