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There's a lot of things that tight end Arthur Lynch can look back at with pride over the five years he's spent as part of the Georgia football program.
Not giving up is No. 1.
A native of Dartmouth, Mass., Lynch came ever so close to kissing the South goodbye before deciding to stick it out, a decision the senior is thrilled he had the wisdom to make.
"Just the idea that I never really gave up, never took the easy way out, whether it was giving up and not chasing my goals at UGA, transferring or whatever, is what I'm most proud of," Lynch said. "But also the opportunity to play with so many talented guys that we've had that basically have made me better, whether it be guys who are behind me now or guys that were in front of me before."
Lynch will tell you he's matured in more ways than one.
Besides his growth as a na´ve 18-year-old, Lynch has matured on the field as well, to the point that he's now a two-year starter for the Bulldogs who in July was named a member of the preseason All-SEC first team.
Not bad for someone who at one point questioned whether or not he would ever see the field playing for the Red and Black.
Now, he's the latest gem in what's been a successful run of tight ends coached by Mark Richt since he took over the Bulldog program in 2001.
"Despite the competition that we were always a pretty close group because at the end of the day, no matter who was getting the ball or who was getting the snaps, we always wanted what was best for each other," Lynch said. "Aron White, he and I obviously are still close, Bruce (Figgins), Orson (Charles) and the guys who will now come after me, I assume
will have this same kind of mentality."
However, as Lynch indicated, there was a time - shortly after his freshman year in 2009 - where he seriously considered leaving the fraternity behind.
"Going into my sophomore year. It's one of those things I doubted myself and wondered if there was an easier path, or immediate playing time if I transferred somewhere else," Lynch said. "The key word there was easier. But after thinking it over, I think it was key for me in my development as a person to stay here. I had to fight through it but I can look back at it now and it was the right decision.
"But it definitely took some risk, some guts I think to make that call because it might not have worked out. I think the fact I've been able to have some success on the field, some success in the classroom is something I can look upon 20 years from now and not have any regrets."
An opportunity to redshirt in 2010 helped convince Lynch to give Georgia the old college try.
"My whole thing was, I told him you've already got a pretty good foothold here, he understood what we were doing and he's a smart guy," tight ends coach John Lilly said. "Patience is a hard thing in this day and age for all of us. He was sitting in a situation to where we had some guys who were a little bit more experienced and I remember telling him that there was a real strong chance he would end up starting here for two years before he was done and that's kind of how it's played out."
Lynch said he would have had several options to choose from had he decided to return home.
"Boston College would have been one of the top schools, definitely, somewhere in the Northeast, or maybe down a level to Holy Cross, Dartmouth College or Brown, somewhere like that," he said. "I would have played a lot of football but I think I would have been focused more on my degree at that point. But leaving Georgia you take a hit to your chances in the NFL because the SEC is the SEC."
Therein lies Lynch's ultimate goal.
At 6-foot-5 and 254 pounds, No.88 certainly has the frame NFL teams are looking for.
However, he's a more versatile athlete than some might think. Once known mainly for his prowess as a blocker, last year Lynch proved he was a pretty good receiver as well after catching 24 passes for 431 yards and three touchdowns. Thus far in 2013, he's got four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown that he scored two weeks ago against South Carolina, a game which saw him take 87 snaps, including his duties on special teams.
"He's a guy who has come to work every day and probably maximized his time off the field. He's done a great job off the field pursuing his degree," Lilly said. "He's become a guy, I won't say become the face of the program, but someone who is kind of out there with you all, shows up in the media and is someone who has a lot of goals and beyond."
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