Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 16 of 55 SEPT. 17, 2018 17 ture I may get buried on defense. That was one time, in particular, that was really hard for me. For a couple of weeks I did defensive work, and then once the season started I played scout offense, but I was still unsure if they would move me back to receiver." He considered a plea to return to offense, but "I didn't feel like I was in a place to tell them what to do, especially as a freshman." When asked what prompted his return to offense, Finke was succinct. "Probably because I wasn't any good at defense," he deadpanned. During his freshman season (2015) on the scout team, he saw that he could hold his own against top col‑ lege athletes, and his confidence soared. By the start of his sophomore year, Finke had earned a scholarship. "Even when other people don't recognize it, you feel it in yourself," Finke said. "You have to pay your dues, but it's also frustrating when you know you're capable of more." By the end of the calamitous 4‑8 season, Finke was among the bright spots, concluding the year with a 31‑yard touchdown reception in the home finale versus Virginia Tech, and then notching four catches for 53 yards and another score at USC. Earlier that year, Finke's 23‑yard punt return against Miami set up the winning field goal in a 30‑27 win. After finishing the vastly improved 2017 campaign with six catches for 102 yards, Finke faced the challenge of competing against a highly gifted incoming five‑man freshman receiv‑ ing corps to complement rangy vet‑ erans Miles Boykin and Chase Clay‑ pool, but he has remained a mainstay. "I always want more; I never want to plateau," said Finke, whose goal is to someday play in the NFL. "I want to keep climbing. I'm never satisfied with where I'm at." Kelly indicated Finke's dramatic scoring catch versus Michigan would not have been made last season when he was not as strong, to which the receiver took natural umbrage. "That's his opinion," Finke said. "I guess it speaks a lot to the improve‑ ments that we made as a team in the offseason and our mentality going into games. … I've never wanted to say that I don't think I would make a play. Whether that's true or not, I always try to tell myself I think I would make it." Bet against him at your own risk. ✦ Finke hauled in three passes for 55 yards, including a sensational 43-yard touchdown grab, in Notre Dame's 24-17 win over Michigan Sept. 1. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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