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Other finalists in New York City recognize NIU QB’s name, game

NEW YORK – Jordan Lynch is no stranger to Johnny Football.

In a way, Lynch is different from the other five Heisman Trophy finalists. The Northern Illinois senior quarterback is the only one of the six finalists from a non-AQ conference, and Lynch didn’t become a starter until he was an upperclassman.

But that doesn’t mean his name and accomplishments aren’t recognized by the other top players in college football.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Manziel said he’s watched Lynch six or seven times over the past two seasons with all the Tuesday and Wednesday night games NIU has played on the ESPN family of networks. And last year’s Heisman winner certainly has been impressed.

“Just watching him play, watching him tear up college football for the past two years, it’s been fun to watch,” Manziel said. “... It really is incredible.”

Manziel has been carving up college football in his own way. The Texas A&M sophomore quarterback averaged 368.2 yards of total offense this year, which ranks third in the country heading into the bowl season. Lynch’s 350.5 yards are fourth in the nation behind Manziel.

“He’s a bigger guy than me,” Manziel said. “I want to be a little more elusive and a little more shifty. He’s just going to plow right over you. A little different style but the guy can run the ball.”

For a time last winter, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, then the backup behind current Buffalo Bills starter EJ Manuel, was Jordan Lynch.

Well, sort of.

Winston, the heavy favorite to take home this year’s Heisman, played Lynch on Florida State’s scout team during the Seminoles’ preparation for the Orange Bowl, where Florida State topped the Huskies, 31-10. The Seminoles were really the last team to curtail Lynch’s production, doing so Jan. 1 in Miami.

“They told me, they were like, ‘Guys, he is a bowling ball and he can sling it.’ So I tried my best to be a bowling ball. Because last year I was 180 (pounds), so I wasn’t as buff as him,” Winston said. “So I tried to run in there but Coach (Jimbo) Fisher let [the defense] stop hitting me when I tried to hit them back at practice, so they couldn’t hit me anymore.”

After finishing seventh in last season’s Heisman balloting and picking apart Mid-American Conference defenses once again this year, Lynch isn’t an unknown anymore.

Alabama QB AJ McCarron, who will be flying into New York today for the final ceremony, also attended the Manning Passing Academy summer camp this year along with Lynch, both serving as coaches for the four-day session.

Lynch is a longshot to win tonight, but he definitely is on the map nationally.

“I’ve seen him play a couple times,” Auburn tailback Tre Mason said. “He’s a great leader. Very athletic person, very talented. He’s a hard person to stop.”

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