July 31, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Jay Finch has never been one to shy away from contact.
That’s a good trait to have for a center and one that over the summer Finch found can work both on and off the field.
The Acworth, Ga., native used his ability to make contact off the field during his internship with the Lords Computer Group in Alpharetta. Working as a sales rep., he made one of countless cold-calls that ended up reaching Major General (retired) Chuck Swannack, the President and CEO of U.S. Logistics and a Georgia Tech alumnus.
“That was cool. We did some business with them,” Finch said, breaking into a smile. “Small world. It’s real easy nowadays, with social media. I used LinkedIn to look up the company and then I looked up the company and I had a profile. It was like, ‘Hey, you have alumni that’s in there.’ I was like, ‘Hey, go figure, it’s the president. Let’s see if I can’t get a hold of him.'”
Alas, getting to the office wasn’t easy. Finch pointed to the traffic on 400 as about the only drawback to the internship.
If only he had the power to manipulate traffic the way he does opposing defensive linemen.
That ability to drive opposing linemen the direction he chooses and to open paths to move forward unimpeded helped make Georgia Tech’s running attack the second-most potent in the nation in 2011, when the Yellow Jackets rushed for 316.46 yards per game. It’s also led the media to focus its attention on him heading into 2012.
The redshirt junior was recently named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List.
The Rimington Trophy has been given to the nation’s top center since 2000 and is named after former University of Nebraska center Dave Rimington, a consensus All-American in 1981 and ’82 and the only player ever to win back-to-back Outland Trophies, doing so in ’81 and ’82. The award is overseen by the Boomer Esiason Foundation and has raised more than $2 million in the fight against cystic fibrosis.
Finch is one of 51 players who made the watch list — including four other centers from the ACC. That recognition is a big a deal.
“It’s a great honor,” said Finch, who begins 2012 with 14 career starts, seventh-most on the squad and third among offensive linemen (only guard Omoregie Uzzi (25) and tackle Will Jackson (22) have more). “I’m just happy to be on it because I know that’s the best of the best.”
The Yellow Jackets expect to again rank among the best of the best offenses on the ground this season and will be counting on the offensive line to lead the way. Finch, who started 12 of 13 games last season, believes such expectations on the unit are justified.
“We have great chemistry,” he said. “Everybody’s healthy and ready to go. I’m really excited for this upcoming season.”
Finch’s excitement echoes that of head coach Paul Johnson, who has referred to this year’s offensive line as the most talented and deepest he’s had in his tenure at Georgia Tech.
“I believe so, because we’ve had a lot of people that have played,” said Finch, who proceeded to reel off names of eight of his OL compatriots. “We have a lot of experience and depth, which I think is great and has helped for chemistry with multiple set-ups, me being in there, me being out, me playing possibly as a guard if need be.”
But the former Kennesaw Mountain High School standout, also knows that being part of a superb unit in July, just like being part of the select group of Rimington Award candidates, could be rendered meaningless by September should he let the headlines go to his head.
Having had a taste of notoriety last season when he earned the nickname “The Anchorman” in an article, Finch is using the spotlight to help him fend off complacency this year.
“Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to have something to read. That’s motivating,” he said. “But it’s also something else to drive you, like, ‘Okay, that’s good. Now I’ve got to try to better it.’ You don’t want to go back. You want to progress. So it’s something to be conscious of but you can’t let it get to you. I can’t let that be, ‘I’m Anchorman.’ I like the name but it’s something to keep me motivated, I guess.”
Not that the “Anchorman” moniker is all bad.
Finch stated he had another, more ulterior motive to keeping the nickname alive.
“I’d love to meet Will Ferrell.”