Northern Illinois gets another Lynch at quarterback

  • Temple quarterback Justin Lynch (13) in action during the second half of an NCAA college football against Houston, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Philadelphia. Houston won 37-8.

    Temple quarterback Justin Lynch (13) in action during the second half of an NCAA college football against Houston, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Philadelphia. Houston won 37-8. Associated Press

By Eddie Carifio
Shaw Media
Updated 12/15/2021 5:53 AM

Justin Lynch said he just thought it was time to come home.

The true freshman quarterback from Chicago Mount Carmel announced this week he was transferring to NIU from Temple, where he saw action in 11 games and ended the season as the second-leading rusher for the Owls.


Wednesday is the official early signing day, when schools can announce their recruiting class of high school seniors and transfers.

Lynch, the younger brother of former NIU standout and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch, was recruited to Temple by head coach Rod Carey, who left NIU in 2019 after six seasons in DeKalb. He was recently fired by Temple.

Lynch ran for 295 yards and a touchdown, averaging 3.9 yards a carry this season. He was the second-leading passer, throwing for 830 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Lynch will add depth behind Rocky Lombardi at quarterback and add talent to a young group. Lombardi, a junior who transferred from Michigan State, took most of the snaps this season, sitting out only the regular-season finale against Western Michigan. Ethan Hampton, a true freshman from Aurora Christian, started that game for the Huskies, a 42-21 loss.

NIU's roster also features freshmen Dustin Fletcher and Jeffrey Lomax. Fletcher appeared sparingly in the 2020 season. Lomax hasn't seen game action yet.

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Lombardi and the Huskies are getting ready to play Friday in the Cure Bowl against Coastal Carolina in Orlando, Fla.

Lynch spoke Tuesday about the decision to leave Temple for NIU.

Q. What was behind your decision to transfer?

JL. It was a tough situation for me at Temple. I got in a few games, a few starts, a lot of learning experiences. I thought it would be best to come home to NIU.

Q. Were you looking at other schools, did anyone else offer you, or was this just, like you said, 'Hey I want to come back home?'

JL. It was between NIU and Western Michigan. ... On my visit it just felt like home. It's like a second home. I grew up watching my brother obviously play. I loved the coaching staff when I was out there. It felt like a good place to be.

Q. What were the talks like with the NIU coaching staff?

JL. Obviously come in and compete, but with Rocky being back it will be best if I redshirt. It will let me learn the offense and get to grow as a player. And then we see after that, go out and compete.


Q. So you're expecting to take a redshirt next year?

JL. Most likely, yep.

Q. What do you know about Rocky and what are you expecting to learn behind him?

JL. When I was out there I met him on the visit. He's an older guy so probably a leadership role, how he carries himself with the team and all that will be a big thing. Learn as much as I can.

Q. Was there anything at Temple you learned (that) maybe you weren't expecting?

JL. I think it was just the speed of the game coming out of high school. That was a big thing getting adjusted to. Then there's the skill level. Everybody's on scholarship. Just getting used to reading defenses and all that.

Q. How do you balance trying to make a name for yourself while knowing the shadow your brother's accomplishments still cast?

JL. Well, I'd say I'm not Jordan. I'm Justin. Obviously there are going to be comparisons online and all that. But I'm going to make my own legacy here. That's a big thing. I want to carry my name, not his.

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