Memphis QB Lynch, coach Fuente quickly becoming hot commodities

Memphis and quarterback Paxton Lynch (left) aren't a secret anymore.

Justin Ford/Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to say who improved their stock more Saturday, Memphis coach Justin Fuente or quarterback Paxton Lynch.

The 37-24 win over No. 13 Ole Miss was the school’s first win against a ranked team since 1996 when Memphis beat a Peyton Manning-led Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl. 

For those unfamiliar with Lynch, who has helped the Tigers to 13 consecutive wins, his name is already on the radar of NFL Draft evaluators. His size helps his pro prospects as well: Lynch stands tall in the pocket at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds.

Lynch entered the game with a passing efficiency rating of 181.5, good for third in the nation. He didn’t hurt that one bit by going 39 of 53 for 384 yards and three touchdowns. He did throw one interception, on a tipped ball, for the Tigers, who are now 6-0 (3-0 in the American).

"Lynch is one of the best kept secrets in college football," Ole Miss defensive back Mike Hilton said prior to the game. "He really leads the team offensively. He’s putting up great numbers, and he’s got a lot of guys around him making plays."

Lynch isn’t a secret anymore and his coach says the success has yet to go to his quarterback’s head.

"Pretty level-headed young man," Fuente said. "He’s not taken in by a lot of the other stuff. He seems to be able to stay focused and not get too rattled. His overall command and leadership style is what I think he’s continuing to improve on, his ability to lead within his own personality."


Fuente, meanwhile, is likely on the radar of other schools. He has turned around a moribund program, and with many big jobs open and opening, it likely won’t be easy for the Tigers to keep him.

Twitter was aflutter during the victory over Ole Miss, ticketing him for the South Carolina job Steve Spurrier vacated this week.

For the time being, however, the 60,241 who witnessed the upset in the Liberty Bowl aren’t the only ones to recognize that Lynch, Fuente and Memphis won’t be ignored.

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