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NIU’s Jordan Lynch is no poseur

Updated: January 16, 2014 7:08AM



NEW YORK — Jordan Lynch finished third Saturday night. Assume the Heisman pose, kid. You’re the victor.

That’s completely unfair to Florida State’s Jameis Winston, who ran away with the stiff-arming trophy in a landslide, but you win some and you lose some in life, not to mention in the court of public opinion.

“I came here to win it,’’ Lynch said. “That’s what I wanted. I’m a winner. I don’t like to lose at anything. But third place, that’s the highest [finish for] the Mid-American Conference. I guess we’ll take it.’’

He wants to be more than a feel-good story, and he is, but there’s no denying that the pride of Mount Carmel and Northern Illinois had a better tale to tell than the other finalists:

High school quarterback gets one scholarship offer from school in mid-level conference and proceeds to show the world that he possesses more than mid-level talent or mid-level heart.

The only way this story could have been better is if, as a child, he had risen daily at 4 a.m. to milk mid-level cows.

Lynch looked a bit out of place at the ceremony, and there will be people who say it was because he didn’t belong.

But that’s what people have been telling him for years, what people have been telling Northern Illinois for years and what people have been telling the MAC for years.

It’s a good thing he listened.

“Every time I step on the field, I play with a chip on my shoulder,’’ Lynch said, which could explain his 23 touchdown passes, 22 rushing touchdowns and 1,881 rushing yards this season.

Maybe Lynch looked out of place because he had come from such a different place than the other finalists — Winston, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Auburn’s Tre Mason, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Boston College’s Andre Williams. All were from bigger programs. All were more highly recruited.

Fair or not, this year’s Heisman vote threatened to turn into a morality play. Earlier this month, the Florida state attorney’s office found insufficient evidence to charge Winston with the sexual assault of a former Florida State student. The Tallahassee police department had come under intense criticism for the slowness of its investigation in a zealous football town. The questions surrounding the case won’t go away.

Manziel, last year’s winner, was embroiled in an autograph-for-profit controversy before the season. It was nice of the Heisman people to have the ceremony at the Best Buy Theater in his honor.

And then there was Jordy Football, who seems almost too good to be true. You can only go on what you see, and mostly what you see with Lynch is this: good kid, good player.

Parents dream big dreams for their kids. But you know what? There are limits.

“Not in a million years I would ever expect anything like this,’’ Lynch’s mom, Sheila, said.

That might be why she and her husband, Jim, had a better time in New York than their son did.

“It’s probably the best experience of my life, other than getting married to the wife,’’ said Jim Lynch, a truck driver for Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.

While here, Jim had his photo taken with Archie Griffin, Tony Dorsett and Fenwick’s own Johnny Lattner, among many other former Heisman winners and celebrities. Jim and his smartphone might have gotten a little too caught up in the moment. When Jordan was hit with a stomach virus Friday night, Jim got a shot of him in mid-hurl.

“They’re living it up, and they deserve it,’’ Jordan Lynch said.

Heisman voters picked the best player, and it’s hard to argue with their choice. Winston had a phenomenal season. He’ll make a lot of money if he turns pro. But that’s for another day.

We spend way too much time talking about the “next level,’’ whether it be the college scholarship offers a high school star has or the NFL draft stock of a college player. In the process, we lose sight of the good things right in front of us. You can miss Jordan Lynch that way. Maybe that’s how bigger programs missed him. Or how they saw him as a defensive back and missed his quarterback skills.

Let’s give him this moment and leave the discussions of his pro potential for another time.

The South Sider finished third. And won.

“There is no losing,’’ Jim Lynch said. “This is a big win for Jordan. This is a big win for Northern Illinois. It’s a big win for the MAC.’’



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