RCTC Quarterback Justin Lynn

RCTC quarterback Justin Lynn, left, takes part in a drill during a recent practice. The Memphis native has emerged as a team leader for the 5-1 Yellowjackets. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

When he arrived on campus to play football for Rochester Community and Technical College, Justin Lynn was caught in a numbers game.

The freshman from Memphis, Tenn., was one of four first-year players battling for the starting quarterback job and he was third on the depth chart to start the season.

"Everybody wants a spot and everybody's going to work," Lynn said. "Nobody's going to take a day off."

Lynn wasn't starting for the Yellowjackets, but he saw action in each of the team's first three games as offensive coordinator Stan Bedwell was giving each QB some game action.

"There's a lot of young guys here and a lot of promise," Bedwell said. "I don't want to make rash decisions on anyone, because they all can play."

Bedwell said Lynn struggled during a backup role the first few weeks of the season.

"I just had to keep working and do the things that I could control," Lynn said. "I knew I could make the plays, but I needed time to better myself and just work on my craft."

Lynn's big break came in the fourth week of the season. He got to start against struggling Vermilion and made the most of his opportunity. The 6-foot, 215-pounder was 29-for-48 passing for 490 yards and seven touchdowns and he was named the NJCAA National Player of the Week.

"When I first came in, I was kind of in a slump. 'Am I good enough to play college football?' And then came that Vermilion game, my first start, and I had a good game so yeah, it was kind of a confidence booster," Lynn said. "But I didn't let it get to my head."

Lynn, who is a pocket passer, realizes he still has a lot of work to do to keep improving his game.

"There's a lot on his plate in this offense, obviously," Bedwell said. "Each week he's done a great job of correcting the mistakes and getting better."

Lynn, who has been playing QB since the age of 7, is starting to get used to the college game.

"The biggest difference is the game speed," Lynn said. "Everything's faster. You have to drop, you have to release (the ball) and everything's faster. And you have to be tough, too. You have to be strong mentally and physically."

He said the mental part of his game has really taken off since he arrived at RCTC.

"The biggest improvement for myself is attitude," Lynn said. "High school, I kind of faced attitude problems. But now I'm older and better at controlling my attitude and being a team player."

Lynn is now entrenched as RCTC's starting quarterback and he is becoming a leader of the team. 

"I think from a vocal standpoint and a just an attitude standpoint, every week he's kind of being molded into that guy, that guys are starting to look to him to be the one making those plays. The big thing he's doing each week is just stepping up and taking control and making it his team," Bedwell said. 

For the season, Lynn has completed 73 of 146 passes for 1,200 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. The strong-armed right-hander said he wants to improve his footwork and getting the ball out quicker.

"I think his arm strength is really good," Bedwell said. "I think the thing we're having to work on is touch. Because he has such a big arm, he tries to just bullet it in when he could make it easier for them to catch it."

The Yellowjackets take a 5-1 record into today's 1:30 p.m. home game against Itasca. RCTC is coming off a 1-6 season, a rare year in which it did not make the state playoffs. The Yellowjackets are trying to end their three-year hiatus of not playing in the MCAC state title game, something they had done 19 times in 20 years from 1996 to 2015.

"I just want to see all of us put a ring on our finger at the end of the season," Lynn said. "We still haven't had our best game so we don't know what's in store."

What's your reaction?