ATHENS - Arthur Lynch has had plenty of other roles on the Georgia football team: Offensive leader, team spokesman and mentor to young players. Now another role appears within reach:
Star in his own right.
Lynch was named the SEC preseason first-team tight end in a media vote last week. The honor may have a lot to do with the lack of star power at that position in the SEC, as well as Lynch's veteran status. But the fifth-year senior has also earned his way into this position.
When he became the starter last year, Lynch's calling card was as a blocking specialist who knew the position, and whose close friend and housemate, Aaron Murray, happened to be the starting quarterback. But Jay Rome, a highly-touted recruit in 2011, was the second-teamer, so Lynch's starting spot didn't seem secure to some outside the team.
Inside the team, however, there was a good measure of confidence that Lynch could translate his performances in practice - where he showed good hands - to games. Those hands were on display on the fateful final drive of the SEC championship, and in the Capital One Bowl. He had three catches in each of the final five games, finishing the season as the team's fourth-leading receiver.
The increased notoriety led Lynch to join tailback Todd Gurley as the only Georgia players on that preseason all-SEC first team.
"It's sweet. Especially going from being recognized as kind of a one-dimensional guy, and being a third-teamer (for Georgia) because of the depth we had, to being mentioned with the other top players in the league. It's nice," Lynch said.
Lynch finished last season with 24 catches, 431 yards and three touchdowns. For the fantasy geeks out there: He may not improve on those numbers very much, other than touchdowns. Georgia's offense just has that many weapons.
Lynch understands that.
"From a personal standpoint with me and Jay, it was nice to be incorporated into the offense, and also be able to win the game," Lynch said. "Hopefully that's what we'll do, like the offensive line, kind hit the ground running. And if not, we've got guys like Michael Bennett back, we've got good receivers, we've got Malcolm (Mitchell) who'll be at full strength, who was kind of nicked up throughout the season. It's always going to be able to help us as an (offense) to spread it around. And the most important thing is we have those two tailbacks to carry the load."
That said, Lynch and Rome still refer to each other as a tandem. Most teams would be tempted to employ some double tight-end sets, but given Georgia's talent at tailback and receiver, Lynch and Rome are more likely to alternate.
And again, he's fine with that. The goal is a smooth offense as a whole.
"As a team, but specifically an offense, representing them, I'd like to think we can pick up where we left off - but if we get five more yards," Lynch said.