When Matt Lynch chose to transfer to Colorado last year, he did it with the intention of playing one final season of college football.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave him a bonus year, and the senior tight end is enjoying every last minute.
On Saturday, Lynch and the Buffaloes (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) will play their final home game of the season when they host Washington (4-6, 3-4) at Folsom Field (1:10 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Network).
For Lynch, who grew up down the road from Boulder and starred at Legacy High School, the long journey through college football is in its final stages.
“This is a six-year college football timeline for me and that’s coming to an end, so there’s definitely a little sadness in there,” he said. “But I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
A 2016 graduate of Legacy, Lynch was a star quarterback for the Lightning, throwing for 1,947 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior. He was a three-star prospect and signed with UCLA.
For three years, Lynch was a backup quarterback with the Bruins. In that third year, 2018, it was clear the Bruins and head coach Chip Kelly had their quarterback of the future in Dorian Thompson-Robinson – who is now a senior, four-year starter.
Lynch moved to tight end for his final season with the Bruins and after graduating last year elected to join CU as a walk-on tight end.
“I’ve always from the start been a guy like, ‘Hey, put me wherever and I’ll do it to my best ability,’” he said. “That’s just the way I’m kind of wired. So when quarterback didn’t work out, I went up and did whatever I could do next. I found a role as a tight end and in special teams, and then that carried over to here, and I just was able to take advantage of every opportunity I got.”
An ankle injury limited Lynch in 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all players were granted an extra year of eligibility. Lynch chose to come back and was placed on scholarship for his last year.
Playing all season as the No. 2 tight end, behind junior Brady Russell, Lynch has been on the field quite a bit. He’s been used mostly as a blocker, but also has two catches and a 3-yard run to convert a fourth down. He’s also been the holder for field goals and extra points.
“It’s fun,” he said of his role. “The offense is just starting to have fun now with it and we’re not playing tight and it just makes the whole game a lot better. And it’s nice to be able to play punt, play kickoff return, punt return, play offense. So it’s kind of just wherever you put me, I’ll do my best and I’m enjoying that.”
Lynch has also enjoyed meshing with a new set of teammates and has built what he calls “raderie” – short for camaraderie – with many of them in the past year-plus.
“It’s awesome because every team, you’re gonna form that brotherhood relationship and it’s kind of nice to get it at another team,” Lynch said. “The dudes on this team are awesome. The time and moments you spend with each other and as the season comes down, you start to look back at all those fun times, all those memories, whether in fall camp, anything, you start to appreciate a little more.”
Lynch is also appreciating being home.
After leaving UCLA, he still had a lease for his apartment in Westwood, Calif., through October of last year, so he moved into his parents’ home to avoid paying double rent.
“I was able to come back and spend some time with them and that meant a lot and it kind of just made playing in front of them a lot better,” Lynch said.
Except that last year, he couldn’t play in front of them, as the pandemic prevented fans from attending games. This year, Lynch has been able to play in front of family and friends.
“It’s been really special for me, being able to be back in my hometown,” he said.
Lynch will earn his master’s degree in organizational management in December, and he hopes to catch the attention of pro scouts in the spring. He said he’ll figure out his post-football future later.
For now, he’s got one last game in front of family and friends and just two more games overall.
“I’m trying to enjoy this first because once football is done, it’s never coming back,” he said. “(The finale at Folsom Field) is gonna mean a lot. I know the seniors are going to be playing their butts off to make sure we end it in the right way.”