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Despite Rumors and Reports, Roy Finch Never Wavered When It Came to Choosing Oklahoma
Roy Finch heard the rumors. From the time he committed to Oklahoma last summer, different websites and media outlets had him backing out and looking at other schools.
Finch said he had no idea where this hearsay originated, but the 18-year old running back from Florida never once changed his mind about where he wanted to spend the next four years of his life.
“A lot of people (came) up to me asking me if I have decommitted,” said Finch. “If I want to go to Tennessee or USC since Lane Kiffin left. I told everybody that my decision was solid since the day I committed to Oklahoma. My decision was always solid. I couldn’t wait ’til signing day to sign my name on the dotted line. And just get ready to go up there and do big things.”
Some may have thought that after the injury-riddled, sub-par season the Sooners produced in 2009, Finch might be looking at other programs. But the truth is he sees only a bright future for Oklahoma.
“I really don’t think a lot of things are going to have to change,” explained Finch. “Over the last 10 years, Oklahoma has been one of the most consistent programs running. I don’t think us players will have to do anything different or out of the ordinary. We just have to go in and work extremely hard and do what coaches ask us to do.
“It’s all about our attitudes going in and wanting to work hard and buying in to what the coaches have to say. If we do that, we are going to do something special.”
While Finch doesn’t know how those old rumors started, he should not be surprised that his college choice would have a following in the recruiting world. Rivals.com rated Finch as the No. 4 all-purpose back in the 2010 class.
But more important than individual numbers, Finch was most proud about leading his high school team to the Class 4A state title game.
“The season went well,” Finch said. “It was a lot expected out of us because of the way we played last year. We wanted to come out with a different attitude this year and be more focused. And we wanted to do everything that we could to get back to championship. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t win. I don’t have any regrets about the final season.”
While Finch’s play on the field was important to Niceville’s success, he believed it was other attributes that keyed the team’s deep run in the postseason.
“I feel like I played well. I felt like I had more of a different role this year. Last year, I was junior with a lot of seniors on the team,” said Finch, a Parade All-American and two-time All-State selection. “I just wanted to come in and play my role and do my part. But this year I had more of a leadership type of role. I was a senior and everybody was looking up to me to not only perform on the field, but be a vocal leader in practice and make sure everybody did what they have to do.
“I had to be the person everybody measured up to at practice and the way I conducted myself off the field. I felt my role was more important and I think I did a great job with that.”
It takes most high school players several years of being around the same group of teammates to develop into the understood leader. Finch only had one season with the Eagles before he had to assume the mantle.
Finch transferred to Niceville before his junior season. Prior to that, he attended Edmond (Okla.) North as a sophomore and was in his home state of Maryland as a freshman.
Finch admits that attending three high schools in four years was not easy on him.
“The toughest thing I had to deal with throughout my high school career has been the change,” Finch said. “(Niceville) is the first school I actually spent two years at. All the other schools I spent half a year or a year. Socially it was kind of a struggle to continue to move and build up relationships with friends and get to know different people. I would say that was hardest part.”
Finch said his transition to each school was made easier thanks to football.
“Football had a big part of it,” offered Finch. “Every school I went to, football was a big part of their school. I got to meet a lot of great people. It was very important in my maturation. My high school career has been a journey and a blessing. Since my freshman year to senior year, I have really matured as a player and matured as a young man. I wouldn’t take away any of the experiences, bad or good, that I have had to go through in my career.”
It’s that maturation that helped Finch settle on the Sooners. Despite getting offers from other powerhouse programs like Alabama, Tennessee, Florida State, Stanford and Georgia — in the end, they didn’t measure up.
“What separated OU from the pack was the tradition. Coach (Bob) Stoops and Coach (Cale) Gundy really captured my eye. Coach Gundy is a great coach. Even better than that, he is a great person. And you can’t say enough words about coach Stoops,” said Finch. “ I just wanted to be a part of the OU family. I never grew up being a big OU fan, but whenever I moved to Oklahoma, I kind of grew close to OU cause I had a bunch of friends who took me to games. After I left Oklahoma, I just really wanted to be part of the tradition.”
Finch, who describes himself as a gym rat, saw differences when he visited Florida, the school many assumed he would be going to before he committed to Oklahoma.
“They have a great program, they won (two) national championships in the last four years,” Finch said. “Facilities are nice. Everything is good. But I just really didn’t like the whole campus life. I really like the way OU’s campus is set up. It’s more settled and not really too much going on. When I went to Florida, there was a lot of chaos and partying. I just wanted to be in a calm environment where I can just focus on school and football.”
Even though Finch’s decision may have surprised some, his coach was not one of them.
“Towards the end of spring practice he said he wanted to get it over with,” Eagles coach John Hicks said. “He wanted to commit early. Started narrowing down schools and OU came out on top of the list. He and I talked about things that would be important for him in choosing. Because of his size, he would not fit in all college offenses — had to find the right one. And the way OU uses its players and utilizes their abilities, it was a good fit.”
At 5-foot-8, 170-pounds, Finch does not fit the mold of backs like Adrian Peterson or DeMarco Murray. Hicks said he compares more favorably to Barry Sanders style, especially with his 4.4 speed.
“Finch is an impressive little runner who really uses his lacking size to his advantage for great productivity,” one recruiting analyst said. “He is compact, put-togther and built low to ground. Low center of gravity makes him very difficult to wrap up cleanly. Hits the hole fast with great initial burst and suddenness through traffic. Has great feet.
Reaches top speed quickly and can pick and dart his way through the small creases without gearing down much. Sees and hits the cutback lane sharply. Decisive in-line runner who will square up his pads quickly and get upfield despite his lack of size. Breaks a lot of initial tackles with his excellent balance, body control, low center of gravity and pure determination.”
Whether Finch is an every-down runner or a change-of-pace back is yet to be determined. But what he does know is that he will be sharing the backfield while at Oklahoma, and he has no problem with that.
One of Finch’s future backfield partners is Brennan Clay, who ranked as the No. 2 All-purpose back in the country. The two met at the Gridiron Kings team camp in Florida last year and have been friends ever since.
“Whenever I saw him, we hit it off like brothers,” added Finch. “I think it’s going to be dynamic because Brennan is a hard worker, a great talent. And being a hard worker and having great talent — that is a deadly combination. He definitely has the work ethic to be one of the best backs in the country.
“I want to be able to go in and compliment him and work just as hard as him. Hopefully, God willing, we both do good things. I just can’t wait to play along side of him. It’s going to be fun the next four years.”
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the 2010 Recruiting Issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or to subscribe, please call toll free 1-877-841-8877.)