Fresno State Bulldogs make late junior college addition with safety Jackson Finch

Finch will join the team this summer and compete for a starting spot at safety this season.

Contra Costa College safety Jackson Finch “rolled the dice” on his recruitment, but everything paid off on Tuesday when he found the perfect fit at Fresno State.

The JC prospect with three years to play two seasons had one offer from Delaware State when signing day approached. Ultimately as Feb. 3 approached, he decided to take a risk and wait for a potential opportunity from a bigger school.

"I’ll bet on myself any day," Finch said. 

At the beginning of May, Fresno State made contact with him for the first time since about December. Communications progressed to a visit this week and then he received the opportunity he had been waiting for from Fresno State Head Coach Tim DeRuyter. Finch accepted on the spot.

“My family and I went into his office,” Finch explained. “He told me about the core values and principles that the team is built on and he felt that I had those instilled in me, that he liked what he seen in me as a young man. He asked if I wanted to be a Bulldog and I couldn’t say no.

“I was shocked. I was very happy. I feel very blessed to be in this position with my family just about an hour and a half up the road.”

Fresno State held multiple scholarships to use after spring practice, and when asked, new defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said safety depth would be one of his top concerns on how to use them.

Finch fills the need as an immediate impact player.

Finch explained, “Ward said to me, ‘Hey, I’m bringing you here for a reason as a junior college transfer. I expect you to come in and play right away. I am expecting that out of you. I wouldn’t have gone out and brought in a safety if you couldn’t compete to play right now.’ That fueled me even more. I’m already coming in with a chip on my shoulder.”

On the field, Finch spent his high school days primarily at quarterback, but then started making the transition to defensive back through junior college. The Bulldogs have eyed him as someone to shore up depth concerns specifically at safety. Finch stands at 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs.

“I would say my biggest strength is to pre-snap read, having a good feel if it’s a run or pass and knowing what’s going on on the field,” Finch said. “I played quarterback in high school, so just having that knowledge of the offense, tendencies, down and distance, it gives me an overall feel for the game and what to expect in different situations. My knowledge of the game is my strength. I have some things to work on, everyone does, but I feel I come in pretty well rounded.

“I feel I’m the type of player that I am and all I bring to the table is that I’m a winner. I just want to win and to help Fresno State get back to where we belong, which is on top of the Mountain West.”

Finch also has interesting ties to the Fresno State program. Prior to Contra Costa College, he played his high school ball in Modesto. There he met his mentor, Isaiah Burse. Finch also developed a close bond with high school teammates Jared and Justin Rice - both are now Bulldogs as well.

Of Burse, Finch said, “Me and Isaiah, I’ve known him since I was coming into high school. He went to Modesto Christian and he’s a really good player and athlete. I looked up to him, we both played quarterback, we just had a good relationship. He is someone who has always looked out for me, I can call him if I need to talk, he’s like a big brother for me if I need to call and ask him about the process or just see how things are going.”

Of the Rice brothers, Finch said, “When we were in high school, we had a pregame ritual. Before every game we would go to his house and watch movies and ease our mind. Jared, he’s a real good friend of mine. Justin was like the little brother who had so much potential and seemed like someone who could be special. He handled his business and now he’s joining us at Fresno State too.”

Yesterday Finch made his commitment and today he was expected to sign his Letter of Intent. He will then be able to join the team this summer and be ready to compete on the team this fall.

BarkBoard premium members can stay tuned for an audio version of our interview with Finch.

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