Nick Williams noticed it early in preseason camp. On the practice field, he kept hearing the same name.
“Good job, Arthur.”
“Nice block, Arthur.”
“Good execution, Arthur.”
As Georgia’s up-and-coming strongside linebacker, Williams’ job during practice regularly required covering freshman tight end Arthur Lynch, and all of the praise piqued his curiosity.
Who was this freshman who seemed to be playing like a veteran?
“He’s a smart player,” Williams said. “That’s the one thing I’ve learned. I always hear Coach Lilly saying, ‘Good job, Arthur.’ I’m thinking, man, this guy’s a freshman? He’s got all the intangibles.”
When it comes to developing a strong football IQ, however, Lynch had a distinct advantage.
His grandfather, Carlin Lynch, is one of the most successful high school football coaches in Massachusetts history. But it wasn’t until he retired after 35 years as head coach at Dartmouth High School that his grandson started playing the game.
“I always played basketball or hockey,” Arthur Lynch said. “I thought I was going to play baseball or hockey in college, and I never thought I’d play football.”
Lynch’s first taste of football came his freshman year at Dartmouth, one season after his grandfather left the program. While he hadn’t played before, the game had always been part of his life, and he picked up the intricacies quickly.
By the third week of the season, Lynch was starting for the varsity team and his new hobby quickly became an obsession.
“That’s when I started considering football for my future,” Lynch said. “I had always watched it, went to all the games, had close family and friends play. It was always in my family, but I was just never pressured to play.”
His 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame made him the prototypical tight end and quickly caught the eyes of college recruiters.
Although he considered several schools closer to home, by Lynch’s senior season, he had a good idea he wanted to be at Georgia. In the SEC, football was king, and he wanted to play against the best players in the country.
It was a tall order, however, to assume he could step in and play immediately, but, once again, his intelligence made the transition easier.
“The playbook is a lot different so I still have to learn a lot, but, in terms of what’s going on on the field, it’s a pretty simple game,” Lynch said. “You want to move the ball forward. If you don’t know who you’re blocking, you just find the next bad-colored jersey, and you go hard every play.”
Lynch’s understanding of the game goes a bit beyond the simplistic, however.
For one, his combination of size and versatility make him an instant playmaking threat. He didn’t catch a pass during his first taste of action against Oklahoma State, but tight ends coach John Lilly expects Lynch to play a dynamic role on the offense.
Lynch got playing time on special teams, too — a role he said he enjoys almost as much as tight end. It’s not just his knowledge of football; it’s an appreciation for what football asks him to do.
“You can tell he’s played football for a while because of his style, how big he is ;he never backs down,” said fellow freshman tight end Orson Charles. “That’s what you need in a tight end.”
But Lynch said it’s not all about being that prototypical tight end. As much as he has studied his playbook for the past few months, he has taken extra time to learn other positions, too.
While Lynch’s skills and smarts may make him legitimate NFL material in a few years, he also is studying for another job, he said — one that runs in the family.
“I want to be a high school coach eventually, so I try to learn a lot,” he said. “Obviously, I’m trying to learn how to be the best tight end I can be, but I’m trying to learn other positions too, just to see what goes on in their heads. I like to be part of the game.”