By John Shinn
NORMAN – Roy Finch can’t remember the exact date of the epiphany, but the Oklahoma running back remembers what stuck in his mind. He was in the middle of a lost season, stuck on the sidelines watching the carries and catches go to other players.
Then, the light finally came on.
“I feel like the middle part of last year, I matured a lot and kind of grew up and became the man that I needed to be, on and off the field, to be that player that I need to be for this team,” he said.
The player Finch can be has the potential to be one of the most exciting in the Big 12 Conference. The 5-foot-8, 167-pound senior running back has shown over the last three seasons that he can be a little ball energy that’s hard to contain.
A surge of excitement rushes through Owen Field whenever Finch gets the ball. Fans have seen and wanted to see more and more since Finch arrived on the scene in 2010.
The first two years of his career it seemed to be building in that direction. As a freshman, his role increased throughout the season. In 2011, he finished the year as the Sooners’ leading rusher and got the merit badge for being the only running back to make it through the season in decent health.
However, whatever career momentum Finch built in his first two seasons came to a crashing halt last year. The year began with a plan of using Finch as both a slot receiver and a running back. It quickly was scrapped in favor of using him sparingly.
The reason: Finch said the coaches lost faith in him. But he doesn’t blame them.
“The coaches want consistency, on and off the field, for you to play here,” he said.
Finch has earned it back. The preseason began with offensive coordinator Josh Heupel saying one of his offensive goals this season is better utilize Finch.
Whether it’s hand-offs, screen passes, reverses, Heupel wants Finch to get the ball. He’s earned it.
“His maturity, the way he’s approached the offseason, in the weight room, academically, at practice, meetings, he’s been tremendous,” Heupel said. “He’s been mature in a great way. Because of that I feel like he’s going to have a great year.”
What that means in terms of numbers doesn’t have an approximate answer. The Sooner backfield is crowded with fellow seniors who’ve earned carries. There are a lot of really good receivers who deserve the ball.
Finch sees this season as the final shot to live up to his potential. Only he really knows what that truly is.
“You guys have seen flashes, but I want you guys to see this year the real Roy. I’m ready. I’m excited. I’m ready to go.”