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Disabato: Mount Carmel grad Lynch turning heads at NIU

Iowdefensive line Steve Bigach (54) tackles Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) as he looks pass during first half an

Iowa defensive line Steve Bigach (54) tackles Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) as he looks to a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: November 23, 2012 6:15AM



After each game, containing another superb run/pass performance, Jordan Lynch seemingly receives another honor.

And the Division I talent evaluators who wrongly pegged him as an athlete, not a quarterback, should be demoted.

At this rate, I would urge Lynch to include a trophy case on his Christmas wish list.

Through Northern Illinois University’s first seven games, the junior has earned three Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the week honors, an honorable mention distinction for the Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week and recent inclusion to the Manning Award Watch List, named in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.

The O’Brien and Manning honors are national distinctions, producing the kind of notoriety that could cause one’s ego to inflate.

After Saturday’s performance — 354 yards of total offense and four touchdowns during a 37-7 trouncing of Akron — more honors, both national and local, are likely on the way.

Maybe it’s his hard-nosed but humble Southland upbringing, but Lynch had no desire to discuss the awards when we talked.

If Lynch is NIU’s Superman, the honors, at least to him, represent Kryptonite.

He’ll discuss the hardware after the season — one he hopes includes a Mid-American Conference championship and bowl game victory for the Huskies.

NIU moved a step closer to both those goals Saturday, with Lynch leading the way. He completed 20-of-33 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for an additional 131 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Just another day at the office for Lynch, who is too preoccupied with dissecting opposing defenses and leading the red-hot Huskies down victory lane to pat himself on the back.

“I don’t even pay attention to the honors,” Lynch said. “That stuff is for the banquet at the end of the year. I’m focused on achieving our goals. We want to win the MAC, beat a BCS (Bowl Championship Series) team and go undefeated at home.”

He has already accomplished one of those goals. NIU dusted Kansas, a BCS team, 30-23, on Sept. 22.

Considering the Huskies are 4-0 in the MAC and 4-0 at home, with two remaining games in DeKalb against Massachusetts and Toledo, the other two are reachable, also — especially if Lynch continues to perform at the level of a Ferrari.

He’s passed for 1,710 yards, rushed for 1,049 and has accounted for 26 touchdowns.

The success may be shocking to some, but those who had the pleasure of watching Lynch in high school are not surprised.

The Mount Greenwood resident has a strong arm, is quick afoot and difficult to bring down and, most importantly, is a keen decision-maker.

Those attributes are vital to executing NIU’s spread-attack, just as they are to the Caravan’s triple-option formation.

“There are definite similarities, except we (NIU) run out of the shotgun,” said Lynch, a kineseology major. “Making the reads whether I should keep it (ball), throw it or hand it off are very similar to what I did at Mount Carmel. Running the offense at Mount Carmel definitely helped me. The basics of running this offense — managing the game, being myself, getting the ball in the right hands — has come easier to me.”

The numbers don’t lie.

Entering Saturday, Lynch ranked fifth in the nation in rushing with 131.1 yards per game and was averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He’s rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of eight games, with a career-high 207 against Ball State.

Among his 13 rushing touchdowns are scampers of 71, 72 and 88 yards.

The kid is a thoroughbred, more Secretariat than Sea Biscuit. In the eyes of many D-1 college recruiters, however, Lynch was an athlete, not a QB.

Purdue, Colorado, Illinois and New Mexico, among others, courted Lynch as something other than a quarterback. The lone exception was former NIU coach Jerry Kill, now at Minnesota.

“I went to (college) camps my junior year and I remember coaches saying I was too small and they didn’t know if I could play quarterback,” said Lynch, who checks in at 6-foot, 215 pounds. “They wanted me to be an athlete. Coach Kill saw me as a quarterback. I loved the staff and their high energy.”

Mount Carmel’s coaching staff saw the same attributes in Lynch as the NIU staff did. Lynch was a running back at St. Christina School.

By the time he entered Mount Carmel his freshman year, he was being groomed as a quarterback.

“Growing up watching football, I always watched the quarterback, but I got stuck at running back,” Lynch remembered. “Mount Carmel gave me a shot at quarterback. We had a ton of running backs my freshman year. I just wanted to play where I could help the team, so I made the switch.”

The rest, as they say, is history.



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