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Updated: June 12, 2014 9:08PM
Dozens of high school coaches took in the frenzied pace of Marc Trestman’s practices in the Walter Payton Center this week. But only two of them — Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti and his brother David — walked in with an enduring bond with the local star at work on the field.
“It seems like yesterday I was just playing for [Lenti],” college quarterback-turned-running back Jordan Lynch said.
Did he know his high school coach was coming?
“Yep,” Lynch said. “He texted me.”
Mount Carmel, St. Christina Elementary School and Mount Greenwood are never far for Lynch. (Lynch’s hotel home in Lake Forest is 45 minutes from his boyhood home.) Additional hopes and dreams also come with close proximity.
Lynch’s No. 36 jersey might not be regular attire in the bars that line Western Avenue on the Far Southwest Side yet, but his celebrity is very real.
And Lynch feels it.
“A little bit more every day,” Lynch said after organized team activities this week. “But I’m kind of a low-key guy. I don’t go out where there’s a bunch of noise or anything like that.”
Still, knowing that a city is rooting for him can be overbearing.
“I try to forget about it,” Lynch said.
Instead, Lynch focuses on his many tasks at hand. His trips home are weekend visits, if that. Minicamp is next week. Then comes training camp, where he no longer will be a longtime fan in attendance but a keenly watched participant.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Lynch said.
Lynch puts in extra work with running backs coach Skip Peete, and Matt Forte “helps anybody out as much as possible,” Lynch said. He’s listened to his coaches’ calls to improve his pass blocking.
The Bears’ offense, though, is on a different planet than the one Lynch ran at Northern Illinois and made him a Heisman Trophy finalist. Sure, he’s run the ball plenty in his career, but this also isn’t Mount Carmel’s veer option.
“We ran a lot of power [formations and plays] in college,” Lynch said. “Some of these different zone [blocking] schemes we got going on now, I’m just trying to pick up and watch film and try to carry it over to the field. It’s reading the right guy at the right time.”
Making the Bears’ 53-man roster isn’t just an uphill battle for Lynch. It’s more like scaling the Willis Tower. He knows that the Bears have a full stable of running backs, including fourth-round pick Ka’Deem Carey.
Lynch has to impress during special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis’ diverse drills, which can feature volleyballs and medicine balls. Lynch has done about everything in them.
“I’ve never played special teams before. It’s different,” Lynch said. “But I’m open-minded. I’m willing to do anything, and I’m having fun in there. It’s one of the three phases of the game, and it’s very important.”
Lynch has the right attitude, plus a sense of humility.
Any regrets giving up quarterback now after OTAs and a rookie minicamp?
“Wasn’t hard at all,” he said. “No hard feelings.”
All of it makes him even easier to root for. He already has made fans out of general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman.
“I come out early and throw [the ball] around and try to live back those glory days,” Lynch joked. “No, I’m a running back now, and I couldn’t be any happier.”
He will be if he makes the team.
“One thing I do know, that no matter what happens at the end, I know that the city has my back,” Lynch said.
“They want the best for me, and they want me to be a Chicago Bear. I’m going to play my heart out to do that.”