The spelling on the shirt didn’t matter, just that it looked cool. So Denis Lynch bought it.
The red-headed redshirt newcomer’s thoughts behind a soon-to-be-viral outfit are as simple as the slogan printed on the black t-shirt he wore in a game against Fresno State. The straight-forward phrase easily captures the USC kicker’s unique influence on campus.
“I’m Dennis and I do Dennis stuff.”
With his memorable fashion statements and consistent kicks, Lynch has become an unexpected favorite on a championship-battling team. The roster has enough multi-star recruits to fill the skies during an after-dark Pac-12 game, but fans celebrate a nondescript 5-foot-8 kicker with freckles and a curly mop of red hair every week hoping to lynch a grant.
While his home-game outfits become deadline posts for USC’s social media team, Lynch embraces his newfound cult hero status with an “oh shit” charm that belies what long snapper Jac Casasante described as underhanded competitiveness.
“He’s one of the more competitive guys on this football field,” said the fifth-year specialist. “He’s very passionate and open about the things he wants to get better at.”
Lynch is perfect with his 37 extra point attempts and 8-of-10 on field goals leading the conference while No. 12 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12 Conference) is hoping to go up in the hunt for the conference championship after losing remain a heartthrob for Utah. Lynch’s rise to top scorer in a title-contesting team comes less than four years into his foosball career.
Lynch, a multi-athlete at Newbury Park High, only made the switch to football in his junior year. He admitted he’d never watched the sport – his main focus was football – but realized he had a future on the gridiron in his senior year. The left-footed kicker scored 33 out of 35 extra points in two years of high school football, including a perfect 10 out of 10 as a senior. He accepted an offer to continue at USC in 2021 despite a crowded positional group that included then-returning starter Parker Lewis and veteran backup Alex Stadthaus.
When the Trojans signed Lynch, player Will Rose received a text message about the new signing in the expert group chat. He saw a picture of a pale, 5ft 6 child with a head full of curly red hair.
“‘Who is this guy?” Rose wondered skeptically.
“Then he came in and hit the ball really well and I was like, ‘This is someone who can start on this football team,'” Rose said. “Less than a year later he starts on the soccer team.”
Lynch won the seed this season after Lewis moved to Ohio State and defeated Stadthaus, who went six-to-six with field goals and eleven-to-eleven with extra points last year.
When Gavin Morris, director of player relations, attended the competition during preseason camp, he reminded Lynch that he only had one job. The kicker asked just to confirm what that was exactly.
“‘Put the ball through the posts,'” Lynch recalled when Morris told him to. “That was probably my approach. Just kick the ball through the posts and what happens, happens.”
Midway through the season, Lynch is still unsure what he did to overtake Stadthaus, who still manages kickoffs.
Ask Rose what makes Lynch different, the redshirt junior holder said it’s his consistency and work ethic. Any mistake in practice is answered with frustrated calls from Lynch for an instant retry. The kicker lines up for the next one even before the ball is spotted.
“This kid isn’t just here because he’s good, he actually wants to be the best at kicking,” said Casasante.
The committed trio holds a dedicated group chat away from the larger technical discussion. Rose and Casasante, who made their collegiate debut alongside Lynch this year in the USC season opener against Rice, are also the kicker’s main fashion mentors, offering encouragement and accessories. The black cowboy hat atop Lynch’s red locks before the Washington State game was Casasante’s suggestion, and the tall snapper lent him the sunglasses to complete a cowboy-chic outfit that included a black long-sleeved turtleneck and denim jumpsuits.
Lynch admits he’s far from a fashion icon. On typical days, he’s roaming campus in sweatpants, T-shirts and flip-flops, but he’s updated his gameday attire with key motifs.
“I don’t have fashion photos of myself, and my mom was like, ‘You should take better photos of yourself,'” Lynch said. “My mom wanted me to look good, so I said OK.”
Lynch is the star of many images capturing his catwalk walk down the stairs into the Colosseum. Following the success of his Dennis does Dennis things shirt, the kicker is waiting for a Dennis the Menace shirt to arrive in the mail and plans to wear it, even though the film’s title character uses a different spelling than Lynch’s name.
When told that players should “dress smartly” for USC’s opener against Rice, Lynch grabbed his long-sleeved turtleneck, black pants and a black belt with a gold Batman buckle. He finished the look with a thin chain.
“Heat stroke is temporary” wrote a Twitter account after Los Angeles weathered a historic heatwave that took temperatures to nearly 100 degrees this weekend. “Drop is forever.”
The pre-game tunnel walk has become increasingly popular in pro sports, as NBA, WNBA and NFL stars deserve as much attention on social media with their fashion statements as they do with their game highlights. With the trend seeping into the college ranks, this is another opportunity for name, image and likeness deals, said USC receiver Mario Williams.
“Everyone has their own style,” said the recipient. “It’s a way of showing your style and showing how you dress.”
Rose, who is sticking to a theme of vintage USC clothing with Casasante, rocked a USC Club hockey jersey. Williams focuses on unique pieces that help him stand out. Lynch only buys from Amazon.
Lynch bought his jumpsuit online for $37 after seeing fans wearing oversized jumpsuits with bright stripes at College Game Day. He completed the look with black Air Force Ones, known in sneaker-obsessed circles as the shoe of the bum.
While no teammates responded at the moment – Lynch argued they were all involved in pre-game preparations – he didn’t face much opposition later either, although it raised eyebrows on social media.
“I think everyone just accepted,” Lynch said, “that it’s Denis.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/usc/story/2022-10-20/usc-kicker-denis-lynch USC’s most fashionable and viral sensation: kicker Denis Lynch