Bloomington - IU Coach Bill Lynch talks following practice at Memorial Stadium Friday. Among the…
Finch Shocked, Excited By News
After receiving word Thursday night from IU Coach Bill Lynch that the NCAA had granted him a hardship waiver to play this fall, the 6-1, 215-pound safety called his grandmother to share the big news and then joined his teammates for a trip to the movies to see this summer's biggest blockbuster, Batman.
After all, there are many who think Finch is going to be the Hoosiers' own super hero on defense this fall. The top-ranked recruit in Indiana in 2006, Finch transferred to IU in the off-season after playing as a true freshman at Florida. An outside linebacker with the Gators, Finch has returned to strong safety now that he's in Bloomington.
"I was shocked but also happy (about getting the waiver)," Finch said Friday after practice. "It can't get any better than that."
The first person Finch wanted to call was his grandmother, who was equally excited about the news.
"She's the woman I grew up with, and she was happy for me too," Finch said. "She was shocked, screaming, yelling, and felt good."
While Finch admitted to being surprised by the news, Lynch said the word he had heard all along was IU had a strong case to keep Finch from having sit out the season as most Division I transfers usually do.
"I got the impression from those who have been involved with it that he had a very, very good case," Lynch said. "That's the way it worked out."
Finch didn't want to go into the specifics of his situation, but his spirits were clearly high about having the chance to play this fall. After spending most of fall camp working with the No. 3 unit while his appeal was being resolved, Finch worked with the No. 2 defense at strong safety Friday.
His availability creates some uncertainty about what IU will do in the secondary. The Hoosiers return starters Austin Thomas at strong safety and Nick Polk at free safety from a year ago, and both have been standouts throughout fall camp. While Polk started his career as a wide receiver, there doesn't appear to be any thoughts about moving him back to offense.
But before he can think about being a starter, IU safeties coach Mike Yeager said Finch needs to continue to learn the defense and his defensive assignments so that he can feel comfortable putting him on the field.
"(Learning the defense) is the first thing," Yeager said. "You have to know what you're doing before you can even go out there and make plays. If you don't, we won't have anyone going out there and doing their own thing.
"We have a scheme, everyone has a job to do. Once he learns his job to do in every specific defense, we have to make sure he's playing hard enough, making sure he's making plays when they come to him, all that stuff."
That time figures to come soon enough. While there's still plenty for him to learn, Finch has the physical tools to be a huge addition to the Hoosier defense. He's a physical safety who can defend the run as well as keep up with wide receivers in pass coverage. He's physically capable of playing either safety spot, but Yeager said they've had him working exclusively at strong safety in an effort to keep things as simple as possible.
Yeager said he's been pleased that the veterans have done what they can to help Finch pick things up as quickly as possible, and with Finch for being a good listener.
"They've all done a great job helping him out, teaching him what he needs to do," Yeager said. "One the sidelines they're always talking to him, he's asking questions, he's open to the help. It's been a good situation."
It's also a tricky situation as the IU staff now must try to figure out a way to best utilize all three safeties. Lynch doesn't know exactly how things will play out as the season goes along, but he's confident Finch will figure out a way to make a big impact.
"Quality players find a way to get on the field," Lynch said.
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