Lake Zurich's Jack Lynn was the best player on Lake County's best team for two years running, and the Minnesota-bound linebacker is the honorary captain of the Daily Herald's all-area team.
Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer
College recruiting can be overwhelming, especially for the highly coveted.
Jack Lynn was being courted by multiple Big Ten schools last summer.
To be certain he chose wisely, he did his homework.
Lynn also did what many kids do after they complete their homework: He played video games. Believe it or not, that was meant to help in the recruiting process, too.
A standout linebacker at Lake Zurich, Lynn was thorough as he began to narrow his prospects. When it came time to decide whether or not the University of Minnesota was right for him, he tracked down a former Lake Zurich running back for some advice.
"The Minnesota coaches used to be at Northern Illinois so I contacted Kyle Skarb because he played at Northern for them and just graduated from there," said the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Lynn. "I wanted to do my homework on the coaches at Minnesota. I wanted to know how Kyle liked them."
Lynn also wanted to know if the Minnesota look would agree with him.
So he loaded up his favorite college football video game, which allows players to insert themselves onto any team in the country.
"You can make yourself a player and put yourself in a uniform and everything," Lynn said. "I did that for all the schools that were recruiting me.
"I liked the way I looked in a Minnesota uniform."
Lynn, who committed to Minnesota just before the high school season kicked off in late August, has also looked pretty spiffy in his Lake Zurich uniform.
But as a four-year varsity starter for the Bears, he certainly proved to be far more substance than style. Lynn, who has been named the honorary captain of the Daily Herald's Lake County all-area football team, was a difference-maker on offense, on defense, on special teams and often in the locker room.
"His ability to do numerous things, and do them all well - that really sets (Lynn) apart as a football player," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said of Lynn, who also was heavily recruited by Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Northwestern. "He's just so versatile."
Offensively, Lynn provided a huge target as a sure-handed wide receiver. He was also the anchor of a Lake Zurich defense that has consistently been one of the stingiest in Lake County. And he was an emotional leader of a team that advanced to at least the state semifinals in three of his four years.
Last year, the Bears even played in the Class 7A state title game with a fired-up Lynn leading the way. He asked to speak to his teammates before their semifinal game against St. Rita and he pulled out a newspaper clipping of the Bears' loss to Glenbard West in the semifinals the year before.
"I told the guys that I had been waiting 365 days for another chance to win the semifinal game," Lynn said. "I had kept that newspaper article hanging in my room and I used it as motivation every day. I was really fired up and I was trying to fire up my teammates, too."
It worked, but then the dream ended the following week with a loss to Wheaton Warrenville South in the state championship game.
This year, Lake Zurich's motivation was to make amends for that loss and win the state title. But the Bears fell just short of earning another trip downstate. They lost 16-10 in the semifinals to Rockford Boylan, which went on to win the Class 7A state championship.
Lynn had tears in his eyes in Rockford as he tried his best to focus not on a disappointing end, but rather on the totality of the season, and his career. After all, he had managed once again to finish another amazing playoff run as the best player on the best team in Lake County.
"I can't even think of what his best game of the season or his career was because I feel like that was every single game for Jack," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. "I can't ever remember Jack having a poor outing. He was always playing at a high level. Even as a freshman, he was so much more physically mature than a lot of other kids. He's been making big plays and he's been an impact player ever since then."
This season, Lynn led the Bears in tackles with 93, including 7 for a loss. He also had 2½ sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. He'll likely play linebacker in college, too.
"I like playing wide receiver," said Lynn, who caught 13 passes for 271 yards and 4 touchdowns this season. "But my best position is linebacker because I have the attitude for it. I kind of have this blue-collar attitude about football. I just work hard on every play and I never give up on a play.
"I've just always thought that if you do that, it will get you places."
Like right into a Big Ten uniform. Both virtual - and real.