Lake Zurich’s Lynn: Pioneer Press Lake Shore Defensive Player of the Year
Lake Zurich's Jack Lynn (No. 14): Pioneer Press Lake Shore Defensive Player of the Year. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 16, 2012 8:35AM
The rumor wafted inside and outside Lake Zurich High School shortly after University of Illinois football coach Ron Zook was let go last month.
The flitting buzz: LZ football coach Bryan Stortz was a serious candidate to succeed Zook.
“A random parent, at school, asked me, ‘Is it true about Stortz?’ ” recalled Bears senior quarterback Zach Till.
It wasn’t true.
It was the handiwork — make that, mouth work — of formerly shy Jack Lynn, LZ’s senior inside linebacker/wideout.
“He told that to some football people at the school; it got around,” Stortz said last weekend.
Stortz, a few days later, got back at that University of Minnesota-bound Lynn.
A Minnesota Gophers position coach visited Stortz at LZHS.
“Perfect,” Stortz thought.
Stortz, to the position coach: “Do me a favor. Mention, to Jack, when he comes in, that I’m going to Minnesota to join your staff as an assistant coach.”
The position coach played along and delivered the “news’ to Lynn.
Lynn, for about five minutes, believed the “news.”
When Stortz, sitting nearby, started to laugh, Lynn knew.
Knew he’d been duped.
Lynn, in 2011: a 7A IHSFCA all-state pick and Pioneer Press Lake Shore Defensive Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder paced this year’s 7A state semifinalist in tackles (93), seven for loss, and finished with 13 receptions for 271 yards (20.8 average).
Four of his grabs resulted in touchdowns.
He doesn’t have a sideline-to-sideline wingspan, but it’s close.
Lynn also recorded 2.5 sacks, forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles.
“Jack consistently made plays for us … big plays,” Stortz said. “He did a lot of different things for us in his career. We used him in pass coverage, in packages to go after the quarterback, as a kick returner, a receiver.
“I don’t think he ever had a down game.”
Lynn suited up for big Bears games in his career. Lots of big games. Last year’s squad reached the 7A title game. As a sophomore, in 2009, he played a significant role for another state semifinalist.
He made his varsity debut as a freshmen wideout, in a first-round playoff game, after catching two TD passes and looking impressive as a punt returner for the sophomore team in Week 9.
Got in for 10 snaps, maybe 12, in a 7A loss at St. Charles East.
He didn’t catch a pass that night.
But Lynn easily led the team in gratefulness.
“It was an honor to play Lake Zurich football,” said Lynn, as sincere, and as humble, as they come. “Amazing, too. Every team was different, was special. I had a blast.”
One of Stortz’s favorite Jack Lynn football moments occurred in LZ’s 16-6 defeat of Lake Forest this fall. But before it unfolded, after a timeout, Stortz had a little fun with Lynn.
“You’d think,” Stortz said to Lynn and other huddled Bears defensive players during the timeout, “a guy going to Minnesota, in this situation, would probably make a big play.”
Stortz probably wanted to smile.
Stortz didn’t smile.
Lynn got the message.
Lynn, lining up on an edge, rushed hard at LF’s quarterback.
“Jack had to jump over a blocker, who had fallen,” said Stortz. “He then, after finding himself horizontal in the air, kind of tomahawked the quarterback for a sack. It was … dynamic.”
Recalled Lynn: “I was trying to force a fumble on that play, not get a sack.”
Good things come to those who go all out.
There were other memorable plays.
Like his one-handed reception against Elk Grove in the playoffs this fall.
“I’ll never forget the two-point conversion he caught in a playoff game (against Crystal Lake South, in ’09),” Till said.
Lynn’s grab that day was the difference in a 30-28 Bears win.
Till also remembers Lynn as a skinny, long kid as a sophomore.
“One of the lightest kids on our team,” Till said. “I thought he’d be a wide receiver for us; that’s what he was supposed to be. But he was tearing it up as a linebacker, even back then.”
His only goal on varsity, before the start of his sophomore season, was a modest one.
“Just contribute in any way,” Lynn said. “That’s all I wanted to do. If I’d been asked to play left tackle, I would have played left tackle.”
Instead, he made tackles to his left, tackles to his right. And straight ahead.
For three straight years.
“A sharp kid, a smart football player,” said Ed Weigt, a baseball coach and administrator at LZHS. “He knew where he had to be, on every single play, and he usually got there because of his anticipation … his unbelievable anticipation.”
Believe this when Till says it: “I’ve never seen Jack in a bad mood. I’ve never seen him sad. He’s always happy, always excited about something. Excited – that’s Jack, on and off a football field.”