Lynch is back on the national stage at USF

When Aaron Lynch decided to transfer from Notre Dame, it was supposed to be a big blow to the Fighting Irish defense.

Throughout the 2011 season, Lynch was arguably the best defender on the Irish as a freshman, leading the team in sacks with 5.5 as the program's best pass rusher since Justin Tuck. Lynch would be named a freshman All-American.

The former Florida State commit, however, wasn't missed by the Irish too much last fall because Brian Kelly's squad was able to get such good production from Stephen Tuitt, Prince Shembo and Sheldon Day. But there's no question that the Irish defense would have been even stronger had Lynch not left South Bend.

However, the defensive end wanted to be closer to home in Florida, and he will finally get the chance to once again make an impact on the field in the fall after sitting out a season. At South Florida, under new head coach Willie Taggart, Lynch will once again be a household name.

As Taggart detailed to Bruce Feldman of, Lynch reminds the former Western Kentucky head coach of Aldon Smith, the former Missouri star who is excelling with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. The 6-6, 262-pounder will be a versatile athlete for Taggart's defense because he can line up at end, at tackle on obvious passing downs or even stand up in coverage. Taggart told Feldman that he has different packages designed for Lynch because of his athletic ability and the fact that he can wear so many hats on defense.

USF is coming off of a very disappointing 3-9 campaign in 2012, and Taggart was hired because Skip Holtz could not stabilize the program. The Taggart hire made a lot of sense because he is from southern Florida, where he was a prep football star, and he has proven that he could quickly turn around a program. Western Kentucky had lost 20 consecutive games before his arrival, but the school had back-to-back winning seasons and made its first bowl appearance under Taggart.

Defensively, the Bulls are intriguing because Lynch's presence should really help senior Ryne Giddins, who had a subpar year in 2012. He recorded just 3.5 sacks, though he was hampered by injury. Teams now will not be able to double team either end, so the Bulls' pass rush should be fierce.

Lynch reportedly had a monster spring, a period that concluded when he made two tackles and had one sack in the team's spring game. He already is one of the best overall players in the Big East without yet playing a down in the conference, and he is the type of talent that Taggart hopes to land often on the recruiting trail as he tries to get the Bulls back to the top of the league standings.

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