Dec. 29, 2011; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel (3) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end Aaron Lynch (19) in the first quarter of the Champs Sports Bowl at the Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Aaron Lynch?

Aaron Lynch was a star Freshman Defensive Linemen who was primed for the big time at Notre Dame. He was so good in his first season that he overshadowed fellow Freshman Stephon Tuitt.

But, Lynch was a head case. He frequently fought with fellow players and did not play within the scheme. He was talented but he was a rouge. When he decided he was going to leave Notre Dame, ESPN’s Talking Heads like Colin Cowherd said that Lynch was a player that Notre Dame rarely got and that it would hurt them tremendously. He was really correct there. He also said Lynch was Notre Dame’s best player on defense. Did he mean player who had an actual girlfriend? (Zinger!)

Now, he is finally eligible at South Florida. To top that, Lynch has debuted on Mel Kiper’s 2014 Draft Board at #20. It seems unlikely that a player who has so many issues could go so high but the NFL has ignored these issue recently (Blackmon, Ogletree).

USF Head Coach Willie Taggart spoke recently with’s Bruce Feldman about Aaron Lynch:

Even before we talk about the football, the thing I really like is how much he has grown as a person in just the short amount of time that I’ve been here. I came in, and I heard he was this and he was that. That he wasn’t accountable. That he was undisciplined. That he did things his own way. But the kid has been totally different since we’ve been here. He’s really taken care of his business, on and off the field. You don’t have to worry about him being on time. He’s doing it all.

When I really realized that the kid had grown up and maybe hit that button that says it’s time to get it together (was after the team came back from spring break). He had a big ol’ afro, and he cut it off. To me, in this day and age, that can be a big ego thing for some of these kids to cut their hair off and look a lot sharper now. I think that says a lot about him and where he’s trying to go. He’s really matured over the time since I’ve been here. And, when it comes to football he’s the ultimate competitor

If Lynch indeed has turned the corner, he will go in the Top 10 of next year’s draft. But, if an NFL GM from the Minnesota Vikings could think that he would not draft him because he could mentally check out by not being in Florida where he wants to be. His future is completely up to whether or not he is mentally checked in.

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