UPDATED: Lynch leaves Notre Dame

Irish defensive end Aaron Lynch gave Notre Dame the old college try, but after two-plus semesters in the Midwest the freshman All-American is leaving the program to be closer to his home in Florida.

Aaron Lynch left the Irish program Friday.

Notre Dame announced Friday morning that Lynch was no longer a member of the football team. He will finish his classes this spring and then transfer to a new school. Irish coach Brian Kelly said he and Lynch have not discussed where he might be headed. According to 247Sports’ South Florida site, the Bulls are a likely future destination for the five-star athlete. Kelly said he hasn’t decided the conditions of Lynch’s release yet, but he doesn’t intend on holding him back.

“Anybody that doesn’t want to be here we’re not going to hold him back and take his future away from him. We’ll discuss that,” said Kelly when asked about any schools that might be off limits. “That’s the next stage, which we’ll get into and start talking about those issues.”

Lynch led the Irish with 14 quarterback hurries this year and was expected to be one of the best players on the field for Notre Dame’s defense next fall. He made 33 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his 12 games in a blue and gold uniform.

The Cape Coral, Fla. native was never shy about feeling like a fish out of water in South Bend. Kelly said Lynch’s decision to return to the Sunshine State was more about feeling comfortable in the environment than any geographic or climate issues.

The Irish tried to help the uber-talented Lynch overcome his homesickness and hoped the sometimes rocky transition was a result of growing pains. During the past three months, Kelly said, it became clear that there was more to Lynch’s discontent.

“Some of it is you’ve got a guy that is young and you want to see him mature,” Kelly said. “Then you know when you hit a point where it’s not about growing up, it’s about where your heart is.”

Unrest seemed to escalate during the last two weeks following an altercation between Lynch and another player at a team practice. Later that week, Lynch left for the scheduled Easter break a few days early to think about his future with the Irish at his mother's home in Ohio. He returned to campus Monday night and a Notre Dame spokesman said he practiced with the team this week.

Lynch’s departure marks the third five-star caliber player to back away from the Notre Dame program in the last three months. Early enrollee Tee Shepard returned to California in March, and his cousin, wide receiver Deontay Greenberry, left the Irish at the altar on National Signing Day. Kelly said he and his staff constantly evaluate the type of recruit that fits well at Notre Dame, and that all three of those player knew what to expect from the Irish.

“We’re laying our cards on the table. People know that we’re not walking around selling a different Notre Dame. We’re selling who we are what we’re about. We’ll be consistent with that,” he said.

If the Irish are positioned to absorb a heavy blow anywhere, it’s along the defensive line. Fifth-year senior Kapron Lewis-Moore, a three-year starter, will take over Lynch’s spot in the lineup. Sophomore-to-be Stephon Tuitt and early enrollee Sheldon Day will also help make up for some of the lost explosiveness and the athleticism.

Kelly said Lynch’s departure hasn’t affected the rest of the team.

“If it was doubles in tennis and that was your tennis partner, it might affect you a little bit,” he said. “But when you’ve got a football team of 85 guys…The guys that are here they understand how difficult it is, the challenges you face on a day-to-day basis. They signed up for that. That’s why they’re here.”

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