Player Spotlight: Shawn Lynch
Navy wide receiver Shawn Lynch has spent ample time on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Lynch initially entered Navy as a wide receiver in 2010, where he saw action on only two games, but in 2011, his freshman season, he was switched to defense to play safety.
In 2011, Lynch saw action in 11 of the Midshipmen’s 12 games and he started the first five games at safety. Lynch, however, struggled as a defensive player. While he possesses great athleticism, he just could not seem to adjust to his new role on the team.
After Navy’s October loss to Southern Mississippi, Lynch was removed from his starting position and replaced by then-freshman Chris Ferguson. Lynch made three tackles the rest of the season. Lynch could not deny that he struggled defensively; he was in a new position that he had no experience at and he could not cleanly make the plays that needed to be made.
“It was frustrating, but it was on me,” Lynch told The Washington Times. “I was messing up. I wasn’t making plays.”
Coming into the 2012 season, it was unlikely that Lynch would earn a starting spot on defense after his performance the previous year. Ferguson had established himself as a defensive weapon after replacing Lynch and senior Tra’ves Bush would undoubtedly handle the second safety spot.
But head coach Ken Niumatalolo had a different plan for Lynch.
“I didn’t want him to sit on the bench there [at safety] because I knew he would play on the offensive side of the ball,” Niumatalolo told The Washington Times. “We may not roll as many guys in the secondary. At wideout, they all play. In my mind, Shawn was too good to sit on the bench. That’s why we moved him back to offense.”
Moving back to wide receiver, Lynch, a junior, got the chance to reunite with Trey Miller, who is Navy's quarterback and a teammate from back in his high school days at the Naval Academy Prep School.
“As soon as I came back to receiver and we started throwing again, it was pretty much automatic,” Lynch told The Washington Times. “We already had a little connection, so it was pretty good.”
In their opening game against Notre Dame, Lynch showed that the connection was a great one and that offense is the right place for him. Lynch had four receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. He also showed his strength blocking defenders.
Usually a quiet contributor to the team, Lynch showed against Notre Dame that he was pleased to be back on offense. After scoring a touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Miller, Lynch, who typically keeps to himself, showed his excitement.
“He’s very even keel,” wide-outs coach Mike Yokitis told The Washington Times. “He’s not going to say much. It was good to see he got excited. He caught a touchdown pass and got excited. He was blocking the heck out of some corners and got excited. It’s a little bit of a side of Shawn I haven’t seen before.”
Lynch possesses a great deal of athleticism which makes him an excellent choice at wide receiver. He is fast and strong and does not have any trouble making plays like he did when he was on defense.
Back at wide receiver, Lynch feels more comfortable that he will be able to help lead the Midshipmen to success and Niumatalolo agrees.
“We moved him over there [to safety] because he’s 6-2, he’s athletic and we thought he’d be a good fit at secondary,” Niumatalolo told The Washington Times. “But he’s a wide receiver at heart.”
Lynch will look to show his offensive skills and throw off defenders when the Midshipmen travel to State College on Saturday to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Breanna Jacobs is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.