DeKALB – Senior receiver Martel Moore knew that the Northern Illinois football team would be Jordan Lynch’s to lead during the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Coach Dave Doeren realized it during practice leading up to the bowl game.
For the redshirt junior quarterback, the realization came on the first day of winter conditioning.
There was a pause after the team finished its training session, when somebody usually steps up and breaks the team’s huddle. But the old-guard leaders, including former quarterback Chandler Harnish, were gone.
Lynch smiled, because he knew that the team was waiting for him. He stepped in and broke the huddle.
“I know it’s my time,” Lynch said, “and I’m ready for it.”
Moore already knew it was Lynch’s time.
When Harnish went down in the second quarter of the GoDaddy.com bowl on Jan. 8, Lynch stepped in with the Huskies down 13-7. He engineered a 78-yard drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown run.
“I told him, I’ve got your back, just go do you. He went down and scored on the drive,” Moore said. “That’s when I really think he took the leadership role and knew the team was his next season. We have no doubt about him.”
But even before that, Doeren knew that Lynch had qualities to take the helm.
Doeren said that Lynch improved more than anybody during the bowl practices. He stopped thinking so much, the coach said, and let the game come to him.
“He got a lot of snaps because we rested Chandler for like 10 of the 20 practices leading up to (the bowl game),” Doeren said. “He played well. He’s done a great job of having the torch handed to him and accepting it.”
Coming into spring practice, Doeren said Lynch needed to become more vocal. In just the first three days of spring practice, Moore has already seen a transformation.
He used to see Lynch simply as the funniest guy on the team. Now, he’s the veteran everybody turns to.
“Now that he’s stepped into the role, he’s gone into a Chandler role, more of a leadership role,” Moore said.
“When you come to practice, he really gets you into it so you have a good day, even if you come in with a bad mindset about going to practice.”
Lynch has been waiting for his chance to lead for three years.
Finally, he’s the one his teammates look to for direction.
“They need someone to step up,” Lynch said. “It feels good to be out there and guys are depending on you, guys looking up to you. That’s what I want. “