It took five seasons, and a little shuffling, but as a senior Tim Lynott discovered a new home.
It isn’t yet senior week for Colorado football. That begins next week, after the Buffaloes attempt to get back in the win column Saturday with 2019’s penultimate home game against Stanford at Folsom Field (1:10 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
For Lynott and his classmates, in many ways this week marks the beginning of the end of their CU careers. Lynott had endured just about every up and down the game has to offer during his time in Boulder, and a rough 2019 season for the Buffs has at least given Lynott a personal highlight as the first in which he could operate full-time at his favored position, center.
Assuming Lynott takes the field at his familiar spot at Folsom on Saturday, it will be the 43rd start of his career. Until this season, most of those starts were at right guard.
“I’ve gotten really used to it. It feels a lot better every game,” Lynott said. “Usually I play better at the end of the season, and I feel like with this position I’m getting better each game. I’m grading out well and getting better at communication with the guys. We’re having one solid group right now, for the most part. I like it a lot. I’m improving, and everyone is improving on the line as well. It’s been real comfortable for me.”
Lynott was an immediate contributor during a happier space in time for CU football, as he started all 14 games (including the Alamo Bowl) at right guard as a redshirt freshman during the Buffs’ run to the Pac-12 South Division title in 2016. Lynott was named to USA Today’s Freshman All-American team.
The team’s fortunes have never been the same, and as a sophomore in 2017 Lynott shuttled starts between center (four) and right guard (six) before his season ended early due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Last year, Lynott played in all 12 games with nine starts at guard.
But the arrival of head coach Mel Tucker and the hiring of Chris Kapilovic as offensive line coach opened the door for Lynott to move back to center full-time, with last year’s starting center, Colby Pursell, shifting to right guard. Center had always been Lynott’s preferred spot, and Kapilovic echoes Lynott’s belief he has improved every game as his lone season as the Buffs’ full-time center has progressed.
“The thing about him is, he’s improved every week. He graded out at 91 percent in this last game with 11 knockdowns, which was his best performance of the season,” Kapilovic said. “That’s what’s good to see, his growth and development. And it’s nice to have that steadying force inside there every game. We’ve had some injuries and stuff around him and had to move some guys around. But as far as being a guy who’s there every day and seeing him improve—and sometimes with seniors that doesn’t happen—but he has improved every day.”
Playing center rather than guard didn’t change Lynott’s offseason routine, but it has slightly altered his practice routine. Kapilovic noted that centers in an offense primarily run out of the shotgun need to work on their snaps with the same daily diligence as quarterbacks put into their throwing routines. Lynott has mastered that, and whatever opportunity he might receive at the next level in 2020 will be bolstered by the fact he has logged double-figure starts at two different offensive line spots.
“You have to snap the ball every day. I never used to do that until I actually started hearing that I was going to play center,” Lynott said. “It was one of those things where I wasn’t really used to snapping as much and balls would kind of be all over the place. In the offseason I had to be practicing snaps every day and practicing sets and run blocks. It’s a lot different than guard. The whole technique and everything to it is all different.
“I feel like I can get some good push, especially at center, and help the guards out as well. I’m not really a big communicator. I was kind of a quiet guy when I first came in here a little bit. That’s changed a lot for me, and I think that’s a good thing for me.”