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USF's Aaron Lynch heads for 2014 NFL draft

Aaron Lynch confirmed he's ending his Bulls career after 12 games to enter the NFL draft.
Published Dec. 18, 2013

TAMPA

On the frenetic meter, player movement in college football ranks only a notch below shopping-mall bustle this time of year.

Little surprise then, USF lost one defensive end and gained another in a one-hour span Tuesday.

Shortly after third-year sophomore Aaron Lynch confirmed he's ending his Bulls career after 12 games to enter the NFL draft, the Bulls received a commitment from heralded junior college DE Demetrius Hill. He's expected to sign as early as today and enroll in January.

The signature can't arrive soon enough. With Lynch's departure, the top four ends on USF's depth chart are gone. The other three — Julius Forte, Ryne Giddins and Tevin Mims — were seniors.

Lynch was the best of the lot by season's end. Thwarted early by double-teams and frustration, the rangy Notre Dame transfer (6 feet 6, 244 pounds) had four of his team-best six sacks in the final three games, earning first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors.

"We thank Aaron for his contributions to our program over the past two years and wish him all the best in his future," USF coach Willie Taggart said in a statement. "We look forward to Aaron representing USF well in the NFL."

Though Lynch's physical upside and athleticism should benefit him in a combine setting, his 2013 numbers virtually mirrored the ones he posted for the Fighting Irish — against a much stronger schedule — as a freshman All-American in 2011.

He has an exceptional burst, bull-rush skills and an NBA-style wingspan. Conversely, he seemed easily flustered at times and was in Taggart's doghouse at least once. Projections about where he'll be drafted are all over the place.

But while speculation varies about Lynch's short-term fate (see draft, mock), Hill's will be sealed when he fills out his paperwork.

Reared in northeastern Illinois, Hill (6-3, 245) totaled 61 tackles (15 for loss) and six sacks this past season at Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College. Deemed a three-star prospect by 247Sports, he reportedly also had strong interest from Minnesota and Northern Illinois.

One of two pure defensive end commits for the upcoming class, he's expected to enter spring drills among the Bulls' most experienced players at his spot. No other returning end on the roster had a tackle in 2013.

"I have a great relationship with Coach Taggart, and it's great knowing that my defensive line coach will be Coach (Eric) Mathies," Hill told Scout.com. "He understands me a lot because he's from Chicago, so we have that good relationship."

NO TAKING A KNEE: If USF's women's basketball team can rehab its offensive deficiencies as rapidly as Inga Orekhova rehabbed her knee, a second straight NCAA Tournament berth is in the bag.

Twelve days after surgery to repair a torn left meniscus, Orekhova started in Saturday's 75-56 loss at Oklahoma State, collecting 13 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes. Initially, the 6-2 senior point guard was expected to miss at least four weeks.

"A little bit (surprising)," she said Monday, "because I remember my first year here, I had a scope on the same (knee) and it took me like, two or three weeks. Now, I don't have time to sit out that long."

A preseason second-team All-American Athletic Conference pick, Orekhova was walking almost immediately after her surgery and did bike work the next day, coach Jose Fernandez said. Swelling is minimal, though she heavily ices the knee after each workout.

LATTIMORE THE MVP: Senior LB DeDe Lattimore, who ended his career as the Bulls' No. 2 tackler (337), was presented the John and Cynthia Ruzic Team MVP award at the team's postseason banquet Sunday night.

Junior WR Andre Davis (49 catches, 735 receiving yards) was named offensive MVP, while DE Mims (40 tackles) earned the defensive honor. Groza Award finalist Marvin Kloss was special teams MVP.

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