At the end of last season, Memphis Tigers starting quarterback Jacob Karam led the team to three-straight wins and a 4-8 record on the year, the program’s best mark since 2008. Karam progressed nicely over the season and everyone thought he was the unquestioned starter heading into 2013.
However, 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch made big impressions during the spring and head coach Justin Fuente said throughout the offseason that the starting spot was open. Lynch’s hard work came to a head in the scrimmage, as he threw for three touchdowns, two of which were over 30 yards. After the scrimmage Fuente surprised many by naming Lynch the starting quarterback for game one at home against the Duke Blue Devils on September 7.
As stated, the news comes as surprise to a lot of people who thought Karam, now a senior, would win the job. Most took Fuente saying the job was up for grabs as a motivator for Karam to keep at the top of his game and for Lynch and the other guys to work hard to get better. It turned out Fuente was quite serious all along.
It became more and more apparent as the Tigers got deeper into the offseason that Lynch was making a serious push to unseat Karam as the head signal caller. Now, it’s a reality and Memphis’ opener against Duke just got much more interesting.
Taking a closer look at Lynch, the kid has all the physical tools to excel. His height gives him the ability see over the line and survey the field for the open receiver. With height comes longer arms, which typically provides quarterbacks to throw the ball with more power. Lynch fits that mold, possessing a rocket arm that can make all the throws on the field.
Though he has a ton of upside, when it comes down to it he is very inexperienced having never thrown a pass at the collegiate level. With a young quarterback, you would like to have a game or two against lower-level competition to get his feet wet, but Lynch won’t have that luxury opening against a talented Duke team. If he struggles, Fuente won’t hesitate to put Karam in the game.
Lynch is the future for the Tigers and it is starting much earlier than many anticipated. Expect the Liberty Bowl to be even more packed with this news. Fans are going to want to see what all the buzz is about and a big game for Lynch in game one would be the first chapter in what could be a storied career.