Meet Arthur Lynch.
A tight end from Massachusetts who nixed Boston to play in the deep South, Lynch wasn’t going to stay at Georgia until he never wanted to leave. In the Twitterverse, where athletes are in constant trouble for their ill-typed 140 characters (see Tyrann Mathieu, Rashard Mendenhall, Chad Johnson), a recent Lynch tweet read “would love to discuss the rise of China and the uneasy US/Russia relations that haven’t been this shaky since Cold War.”
And then there’s this.
“Two words to describe Arthur Lynch,” Bulldog wide receiver Chris Conley said. “Articulate monster.”
Lynch is proof there are two sides to everyone’s story.
“As goes life there are certain blocks or situations you live through, you learn from, you have regrets, you don’t have regrets,” Lynch said last week on the opening day of Gator Bowl practice. “You just cherish and look back on the good and bad things that have gone on and you learn from that.”
As he prepares for his final game as a Bulldog, Lynch is also readying for his second act — as professional football player. With plans to meet agents this week to determine where he trains once Georgia’s matchup with Nebraska is done, he’s approaching the upcoming weeks (which include playing at the Senior Bowl) with tenacity and anticipation.
“I always prepare myself to where if I have an opportunity to fully show myself in a positive way,” he said. “I’m just excited for the next opportunity and ready to move on, ready to play one more game, win this final game and see what else is in store for me in life.”
Life’s been good for Lynch in recent months. His senior season saw him catch 24 passes for 390 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns, numbers earning him first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors from The Associated Press, Sporting News and the SEC coaches. His teammates named him offensive captain for 2013, and he leaves Georgia joining a long list of Bulldogs tight ends (Randy McMichael, Ben Watson, Leonard Pope and Orson Charles) prepared to excel at the next level. NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper has Lynch going somewhere between the third and sixth round in May’s draft, and from now until then Lynch is doing whatever he can to make his selection as high as it can be.
“I’ll begin training as early as Jan. 2 depending on who I sign with,” he said. “Where I’ll do my training will pan itself out over the course of the next two weeks.”
Three events highlight the lead-up to the draft, with the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and UGA pro day on Lynch’s docket. The initial event — the Senior Bowl, slated for Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala. — is more than a game of all-star collegians.
“It’s a five-day thing — scouts, GMs, coaches will all be at the game evaluating talent,” he said. “It’s a big week for me and a day I can really help my individual stock and hopefully become a higher draft pick. … I was fortunate enough to get the invite and now it’s just trying to train as hard as I can and mentally and physically preparing for a bowl week type practice with more of an all-star showcase.”
Around the time of the Senior Bowl comes invites for the combine, an event “I’ve been dreaming of going to since I was a little kid,” Lynch said. Taking place in Indianapolis from Feb. 22-25, it invites 300 players for several days of running, lifting, prodding and questions.
Exactly what Lynch wants.
“I think it will be cool to compare myself to where other people are,” he said. “I think the combine is a perfect place for that. Bench press I’m not worried about, I’m more worried about the 40 but that’s why I need to go train in a remote location.”
Then for Lynch it’s back to Athens in late April for pro day, returning to a program he wasn’t sure about from the outset.
“He didn’t think he would fit in after he first got here,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He thought I was from a different planet when I tried to talk to him and coached him. He was like, ‘This guy is crazy.’ ”
In typical Lynch fashion, what happened during his early years at Georgia followed an odd set of contradictions, as he played in 11 games as a true freshman — starting one game — but would redshirt his second year. What seemed frustrating at the time turned into a fortuitous turn of events.
“I think everyone should be redshirted because it’s such a bonus that you can have,” he said. “You get a year under your belt, it’s easier for academics, it’s easier to learn the playbook. … For me I might have even had a better deal of it … I knew what I needed to work on and needed to improve on to become a better player because I had a taste of what it would be like to be in the SEC. Looking back now it was the best possible scenario for me.”
The added time allowed him to bolster his academics – he made the SEC Academic Honor Roll — and geared him up for a junior season during which he started 13 games, was named the team’s most improved player and placed on the Phil Steele All-SEC third team. He was named to several preseason all-SEC teams entering his senior season, but most importantly was seen as a leader by his coaches and teammates.
“He’s a beast,” Conley said. “Physically and mentally he encompasses the best of both worlds, he’s an extremely intelligent guy who I could see getting into business or politics and being extremely successful. But he’s also a monster on the football field and weight room. He balances them flawlessly.”
“I think he would call the South his second home now,” Bobo said. “He’s a genuine person. No matter where he’s from, he’s a genuine guy. He loves his teammates and they love him because of how genuine he is.”
The teenager from Massachusetts is now a man of the South, ready for the next step but reflective of how he got where he is. And while he’s leaving Georgia, it’s never going to leave him.
“Do I wish we would have won a couple more games? Yeah. Do I wish I studied a couple more hours on that final my sophomore year? Sure. But I think it’s one of those things in life you can’t control,” he said. “I felt like I’ve been a good leader for this team and I’ve made some friendships that will last me a lifetime, guys that will be in my wedding. It’s just such a special place to me and I’m forever indebted to this school. I can never repay it for what it has done for me.”