Created:Tuesday, October 19, 2010 10:21 p.m.CST
Updated:Thursday, October 21, 2010 1:04 p.m.CST
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Lynch all smiles all the time

By JEREMY WERNER - jwerner@daily-chronicle.com
Northern Illinois backup quarterback Jordan Lynch has made an impression in his redshirt freshman season. (Chronicle file photo)

DeKALB – Try to put Jordan Lynch in a bad mood. Seriously, try.

NIU football coach Jerry Kill screamed the redshirt freshman quarterback's ear off. Lynch smiled. Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski poked fun at the Chicago Mt. Carmel graduate. Lynch smiled.

Interception in practice? Lynch smiles. Running for a 90-yard touchdown last Saturday during the fourth quarter of a 45-14 rout of Buffalo? You betcha. Lynch wore that same smirk.

Zebrowski, also rarely swayed by irritability, said he never has seen Lynch in a sour mood. That attitude is why the Huskies (5-2, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) are giddy about their second-string quarterback.

"He's got a great demeanor as a quarterback," Zebrowski said. "Yelling, whatever, nothing phases the kid."

Lynch added: "I try to be the same person every day, even with a bad game or whatever. Your teammates are going to be looking at the quarterback, and you can't be down because then the whole team will be down. I just try to keep a smile on my face. And it's football. I play to have fun to begin with. You can't lose that kid mentality."

And Lynch is as happy as a second-grader with a pudding pack after playing in three straight games, the first of his collegiate career.

Most of the schools that recruited Lynch out of high school wanted him to play safety. NIU coach Jerry Kill, who has a close, trusting relationship with nine-time state champion Mt. Carmel coach Frank Lenti, gave Lynch a shot and a scholarship to play quarterback.

It seems to have paid off as the 6-foot-1, 212-pound signal caller vaulted juniors Casey Weston (in training camp) and DeMarcus Grady (in Week 2) and has settled in as Chandler Harnish's backup.

He also has allowed the Huskies to rest Harnish, who suffered a serious knee injury last season, on planned runs as the Huskies' Wildcat quarterback in the past three games, rushing for 102 yards. The 90-yard touchdown run was the longest by an NIU quarterback in school history.

"I know what Jordan can do," Kill said. "It's kind of a gradual progression, you'll see more of Jordan as this thing goes."

And while Lynch doesn't have a cannon of an arm, the redshirt freshman has shown the ability to make all the throws accurately in practice.

"I know during camp he would make throws to us as wide receivers that would shock us and it was like, 'Wow,' " junior wide receiver Nathan Palmer said. "For him to be so young, he's really catching on.

"I can't wait for you guys to see him more in a game, too."

But the Huskies coaches have been more impressed with his mental makeup. Some of the words Zebrowski used to describe Lynch: "charisma," "personality," "great attitude," "smart," "functional intelligence" and "competitive son of a gun."

"That kid, you could tell him to go play kickoff right now and he'd do it," Zebrowski said.

But at NIU, he's a quarterback, and just one injury away from being the starter. And with what Lynch has shown since the spring, that prospect doesn't worry the Huskies coaches.

Because they know the possibility doesn't rattle Lynch, who by the way still is smiling.

"Whenever I get yelled at, I just have that smile just to show the coaches I'm ready," Lynch said. "It's fun. I love being out here."

Who wins the Boca Raton Bowl?
NIU
Marshall