Spring practices couldn‚Äôt get here soon enough for Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch. Quarterback Aaron Murray said his roommate has not stopped talking about it since January.
Lynch has reason to want to relish the 15 opportunities ‚Äî including the April 14 G-Day game ‚Äî he has to show coaches that talent remains at the position even after the departure of Orson Charles and Aron White.
Charles accounted for 45 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns last season and White added nine catches for 101 yards and four touchdowns.
‚ÄúMy goal is to match the production that we had last year,‚Äù said Lynch, who is working at the position this spring with redshirt freshman Jay Rome and this summer will be joined by Colquitt County‚Äôs Ty Smith. ‚ÄúIf you come in with any lower expectations than were met the year before then I think you‚Äôre just selling yourself short and selling your team short. Anything that was done last year, I would hope that me, Jay and, once Ty got here, can achieve.‚Äù
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Lynch and the 6-6, 253-pound Rome offer different skill-sets than Charles and White who didn‚Äôt have prototypical tight end size, but inside linebacker Mike Gillard uses the term ‚Äúbeast‚Äù to refer to Lynch.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve just to use Arthur and Jay in different ways,‚Äù Murray said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre bigger-bodied guys than Orson. You‚Äôve got to be careful of Orson just going down the field on you. With them, they‚Äôre able to box guys out, create space just like (Rob) Gronkowski does for the Patriots. He‚Äôs no Orson but he finds way to use his body and get open and box guys out. That‚Äôs what those two guys are able to do and what they‚Äôve been doing.‚Äù
Lynch, who didn‚Äôt catch a pass last season after taking a redshirt season in 2010, admits he feels pressure to take ownership of the tight end position as an upperclassmen leader and the only scholarship tight end that will have game experience at Georgia.
‚ÄúMy goal is to be the starting tight end for Georgia for these next two seasons,‚Äù said Lynch, a junior who was ranked as the No. 2 tight end prospect in 2009 out of Dartmouth, Mass. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to do everything in my power to do that. I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs set in stone who is yet.‚Äù
Lynch has worked with the starters in practice for offensive coordinator Mike Bobo while Rome adjusts after playing basketball this winter.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been pleased with Artie,‚Äù Bobo said after Tuesday‚Äôs practice. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been taking his role and done a good job with it. He‚Äôs been very positive, he‚Äôs been physical at times. ‚Ä¶There‚Äôs little things Artie‚Äôs got to continue to work on. He‚Äôs a smart guy, which has enabled us to do some things.‚Äù
Said Lynch: ‚ÄúI just want to gain the respect and confidence of coach Bobo,‚Äù Lynch said. ‚ÄúHe always talks about you depend on the dependable, you don‚Äôt depend on the undependable.‚Äù
Murray said after a practice last week that Lynch caught a 40-yard touchdown on a post pattern during a pass skeleton drill.
‚ÄúArtie‚Äôs made some huge plays,‚Äù Murray said. ‚ÄúJay‚Äôs looking awesome. You always want him to be here for workouts and throwing, but I think he definitely got quicker, a little better, more fluid just doing so much basketball workouts.‚Äù
Lynch has just two career catches for 17 yards, but he‚Äôs no longer buried on the depth chart.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs an opportunity for me to make a statement to say I‚Äôm not just a guy who can block,‚Äù Lynch said. ‚ÄúObviously that‚Äôs my forte, that‚Äôs what‚Äôs gotten me up to the point where I am today. I‚Äôm not going to shy away from that, but I have done a lot in the past six to eight months to trim down and lose weight, become more flexible, quicker, faster, but still maintain that strength to be able to succeed at the level they need me to succeed at.‚Äù