Matt Cashore /

ND A to Z: Chris Finke

Finke has proven to be a slippery Z receiver in practice and a candidate to return punts after setting the prep ranks ablaze with six special-teams touchdowns in 2014.

Who is Chris Finke? You have to follow Notre Dame football closely to be familiar with the details of the 5-foot-9 ¼, 175-pound slot receiver out of Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio.

If the high school sounds familiar, it’s because he hails from the same one as Irish senior quarterback Malik Zaire, who obviously recommended Finke to the Notre Dame coaching staff after their prep careers overlapped briefly.

Finke scored 10 touchdowns as a senior at Archbishop Alter – an incredible six on punt returns, three as a receiver, and one on a jet-sweep. He played receiver and defensive back, returned punts and kickoffs, and even logged a few snaps at quarterback where he ran Archbishop Alter’s version of the read-option. He totaled 1,516 all-purpose yards in 2014.

Finke capped his prep career with a pair of interceptions and 11 tackles in the semi-state/state championships.

Finke (pronounced FINK) takes his big-play ability from the practice field to game competition where the Irish are inexperienced at Z receiver. With Amir Carlisle gone, Fink emerges as the top slot receiver over inexperienced scholarship players Corey Holmes and C.J. Sanders.

Even if he doesn’t win the job over Holmes, a junior, and Sanders, a sophomore, it’s unlikely that Finke will fall out of the competition for playing time. He could earn time on special teams as a punt returner with a vast background from his high school days. The limitation in his game at the present time is as a blocker.

Robby Toma was a 5-foot-9, 185-pound wide receiver out of Laie, Hawaii. He came to Notre Dame as a scholarship player, which differentiates him from Finke, as does his three catches for 21 yards in his rookie season with the Irish compared to Finke’s red-shirt year. But they’re comparable in size, both play/played slot receiver and both had a high school teammate who came to Notre Dame. Toma was linebacker Manti Te’o’s teammate for eight years while Finke’s prep career briefly overlapped with current QB Malik Zaire. Toma went on to catch 60 passes for 667 yards and one TD from 2009-12.

Finke was known as much for his work as a point guard on the Archbishop Alter squad as he was his football prowess. He was not rated by any of the national recruiting services in football. MaxPreps listed him as the 2,106th basketball prospect nationally and the No. 81 prospect in Ohio.

Finke preserved a year of eligibility in ‘15, so he’s yet to make a mark in game competition. There are numerous stories/references to his performance on the practice field, which should be setting him up for a contribution as soon as this fall.

“Chris is super shifty. Being a walk-on here, you don’t expect all that to come from one guy, but he’s one of the shiftiest guys on the team. He’s picking up the offense well. You see it every day. He’s making plays.”
-- Irish DB Nick Coleman to South Bend Tribune

“He was the most difficult slot receiver to defend. There was no doubt about it, and it wasn’t really close.”
-- Former Irish LB Joe Schmidt

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