Notre Dame defensive end Aaron Lynch has left the football team and will transfer to another school following the spring semester, the school announced Friday morning.
"Aaron recently approached me about his desire to leave Notre Dame and return to Florida," coach Brian Kelly said in a release. "I've always known and appreciated the affinity Aaron has for his home in Florida. However, the stark reality is you can't make it at Notre Dame if your head and heart are not here.
"I am proud of the effort Aaron made in the classroom and on the field at Notre Dame. I wish him all the best in the future."
Lynch, a rising sophomore, earned freshman All-America honors, starting six games and leading the Irish in sacks (5.5) and quarterback hurries (14) while notching 33 tackles, including seven for a loss, and forcing one fumble.
"I want to thank Coach Kelly for giving me this great opportunity to attend Notre Dame and be part of the Fighting Irish football family," Lynch said in a release. "This was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make, but I want to go back home to Florida. I'm grateful to Coach Kelly for understanding and allowing me to return home."
Lynch returned to campus this week after being excused from last Wednesday's practice to head to Ohio for what Kelly then called "personal reasons."
"We excused him from practice today," Kelly said on April 4. "He needed some time to straighten out some personal matters at home. ... There were rumors that he quit or transferred or went pro -- all that is not true."
An edgy player, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Lynch picked up six penalties last season, many after the whistle. Allowed to speak to the media only twice since he first took the field for the Irish, he explained the way he plays on March 23, saying: "The thing is, honestly, every year I'm going to get some yellow flags, because that's the way I play football. That's my intensity. It happens. I'm not going to go intentionally do it, but the next two, three, four years I'm going to get more yellow flags."
A Florida native whose mother moved to Ohio to be closer to him, Lynch recently admitted to the big adjustment it had been in transitioning to South Bend, Ind.
"I'd rather be in a different environment as in weather and stuff, but I've got no choice," he said during the March 23 interview. "I'm here, so I've got to stay here."