Nearly two decades separated the careers of Donovan McNabb and Jordan Lynch at Chicago's Mount Carmel High. In the early 1990s, McNabb was so impressive as a triple-option threat that his coaches would make friendly wagers about whether he'd eventually contend for the Heisman Trophy. In the late 2000s, Lynch rekindled memories of McNabb by running the triple-option with verve; he dominated the competition by racking up 1,221 passing yards, 848 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns as a senior. Neither player, however, received a single scholarship offer from a Big Ten school to play quarterback.
The under-recruited and overachieving career narratives of McNabb and Lynch can be traced back to same Mount Carmel playbook. Both McNabb and Lynch developed under coach Frank Lenti, an old-school triple-option aficionado. Known by those close to him as coach Frank, Lenti has never veered from the veer offense throughout his legendary career.
"No we have not," Lenti said, when asked if he's been tempted to change his approach. "It's been very good to us. In the last 27 years, we played in 15 state championship games."
On New Year's Day, the 61-year old Lenti will watch as his second former quarterback starts in the Orange Bowl. McNabb's illustrious career at Syracuse ended there after the 1998 season, while Lynch will lead upstart Northern Illinois in the game against No. 12 Florida State on Tuesday.