With all the talk about super frosh Jermaine Gresham, many people have forgot about the talents of junior tight end Joe Jon Finley, who will be the starting tight end for the Sooners this year.
Before Gresham it was Finley who was considered the next great pass catching tight end at Oklahoma, but just because Gresham has emerged on the roster that doesn't take away from the fact that Finley can flat out catch the ball. Finley's problem has always been gaining weight and that kept him from being a pure tight end, but nobody has ever questioned his skill to catch a pass.
Finley has finally been able to put on weight and he will be more of a factor at tight end in the run game, while still having the capability to run and do well in the Sooners' passing attack. Recently, Finley slowed down just enough to talk about his game for the OUInsider Two Minute Drill.
JH: I know how hard it has been for you to put on weight, so you have to feel great about finally getting over 260 pounds and the fact your body has finally decided to accept some weight?
JJF: "It did, but it really has been accepting it since I got here. When I got here I was 210 and it has really just continued from 243 to 260. Smitty and the strength staff really helped me out and, on top of that, a lot of late night meals and stuff."
JH: What is it like for you to play at 260. Are you carrying the weight OK?
JJF: "It is a huge difference. I feel like I can still run and cut just like I always have, but now I can block C.J. (AhYou) and those guys a little bit. I can block them with a little better technique and I don't have to get so much out of control to try to get movement on them."
JH: Coach (Kevin) Wilson says that you have more lead in your pencil and that you will be more effective as a blocker this year.
JJF: "Yeah, I am able to get people off the ball instead of sliding up and down the line body on a body. I am able to get a little movement and give that little extra lane for Adrian (Peterson) to run through."
JH: How has your size helped you as a pass receiver?
JJF: "It is a bid deal, especially getting off the line. Those linebackers really try to pressure you off the line and they try to get you out of their rhythm. Now, I like being able to swat and swim and then at the top give them a little elbow and push them off."
JH: What do you think of the tight end position this year?
JJF: "We have a good rotation going. We have Gresham, who is a new tight end who has come in and he is a big, strong guy. He is already 260 as a freshman and he is making all kinds of plays out here. Brody Eldridge just moved over last spring and he is blocking like a bull. He has been getting after those defensive ends and that is what we have been looking for."
JH: How tough is it to block those defensive ends?
JJF: "Oh, it is real tough. We have five of them that could be starting a lot of places you know. Every day and all day, it is hard to go against them over and over again."
JH: In your opinion, how is training camp going for the offense?
JJF: "It is going good. I couldn't be more excited because we have a physical presence that we lacked last year. This year we are really coming off the ball and we are not so worried about making mistakes. We are just coming off and hitting you in the mouth and if we mess up we just go on to the next play."
JH: How are the quarterbacks doing at this point?
JJF: "They are doing a great job. I think 'PT' does a great job leading the team. His leadership qualifies can't be matched. Everybody on the team is following him. Joey Halzle stepped up and has really come through for us. He has only been here for one spring, or about 25 practices, and he has picked everything up like he has been here three years."
JH: So you don't think you are going to have to move back and play quarterback?
JJF: "I don't think so (laughs). I would like to because sometimes I miss it. Playing quarterback is pretty fun. The quarterbacks have all the control and have the most fun."
Two Minute Drill: Joe Jon Finley
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