Paxton Lynch, shown here with Deltona Trinity Christian, got a signing-day offer from UCF. (STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL / October 3, 2013)
Sights and sounds before UCF takes on Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl
A 6-foot-6, 225 redshirt freshman, Lynch won the starting job this year for the Tigers by beating out incumbent Jacob Karam.
Lynch played for a small 2A school in Deltona Trinity Christian, which had an enrollment of 148 in the fall of 2011, according to the FHSAA. Lynch had no offers going into the Central Florida All-Star game in December 2011, but with a stage to show his skills against some of the area’s top players he was named MVP after throwing for 237 yards and three touchdowns.
That performance led to a late recruiting rush, with schools like Florida and UCF showing interest. With no scholarships available, neither the Gators nor the Knights could offer. Memphis, though, had a new coaching staff that took interest.
“We got the job here and … were trying to get a handle on recruiting,” Tigers coach Justin Fuente recalled. “And somebody had said there was a kid down in Florida that he thought he had a little bit of talent but had been banged up a little bit and had just played in an all-star game. We were looking for a quarterback so we went down and saw him and met with him and that kind of stuff and things moved pretty quickly after that.”
Lynch committed to Memphis. On signing day, however, he got a phone call from his local university.
The Knights had commit Jonathan Wallace flip to Auburn at the last minute, and suddenly UCF had an opening for a quarterback. They reached out to Lynch, who politely declined, saying he was sticking with the school to which he had committed.
“I didn't have any scholarships, that was the problem,” Knights coach George O’Leary said. “But he's really developed well. I've been impressed with him on film. He is a Florida kid. He's done some good things. They haven't asked him to do a lot where it puts him in danger either. I think that's been good.”
In three games, Lynch has completed 50 of 77 passes for 494 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. He has also rushed 25 times for 44 yards. The Tigers are averaging 20 points and 364 yards per game.
“I’m happy he’s here,” Fuente said. “He’s first and foremost a very good kid, a good worker, humble and hard working, but he’s got a little bit of talent, too. And I think if he works the right way, which I think he will, I think you’ll continue to see him mature and play better as the season goes along.”