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Ryan Finley was the Savior QB Nobody Knew they needed

Warning: This article contains June, a substance known to the state of North Carolina to cause overzealous expectations

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Arizona State vs North Carolina State Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

June

jo͞on/

noun

1. the sixth month of the year, in the northern hemisphere usually considered the first month of summer.

”The roses flower in June”

“It is very hot by late June”

2. An attitude or tone within a statement that reflects overindulgent optimism often resulting in extreme and unrealizable expectations

“This BTP Article is filled with June”

“Okay I may have made up that last definition of June”

College football season is still a distant two months away. However, with the month of June already closing in on completion, getting excited about college football season season has already begun in many places around the country. Fortunately for us, NC State happens to have a college football team, thus we can participate in the sport’s yearly tradition of getting so excited for football that we create unrealistic expectations for our program and then get really mad when the team doesn’t quite meet them.

For this week’s dose of June, we will be discussing Ryan Finley, who is not only very good at football, but is playing an important role in a pivotal period in NC State Football history.

When Finley first committed to NC State as a grad transfer, many, including me, dismissed him as the number three guy. We had all been debating Jalan McClendon vs. Jakobi Meyers for months leading up to the spring game. Finley’s stats at Boise State didn’t exactly jump off the page either. This was my personal prediction for the starting quarterback in 2016:

“My guess at the starting lineup: Jalan McClendon wins the starting job in a tight race over Meyers, but both quarterbacks see the field early in the season.”

What has transpired in the two seasons since then though has been remarkable. Finley won the job and has steadily improved since then. Now he could lay claim to a first team All-ACC spot this year. He could leave NC State as the second leading passer in school history. He has transformed into a star, and it was just in the nick of time.

For as long as I can remember NC State Football has been a ground floor team in the ACC. Typically, they were always able to avoid the basement, but dreams of ascending to something higher were just that; dreams. Now it finally feels like the Pack is at least in the elevator. A lot of the opportunity State has granted itself would never have been possible without Finley and his timely arrival.

The quarterback situation heading into 2016 in Raleigh was actually far worse than any surface level analysis seemed to indicate. As the season aged, it became clear that neither of the two options we had spent the offseason hyping would have been capable of piloting the offense come gameday. Enter Ryan Finley.

In an offense that was built heavily around having Matt Dayes and Jaylen Samuels, Finley wasn’t asked to do too much in the opener. Basically just don’t suck. He managed that and quite a bit more throughout the year, throwing for over 3000 yards. More importantly, he proved he could be trusted at the helm of the offense. When 2017 rolled around and his surrounding cast began to mature, he broke out of the game manager role many had labeled him with.

Finley would once again throw for more than 3000 yards in 2017. He set an all-time record for completions in a game. He, with the help of some excellent hands to throw at, largely shut down any concerns about his ability to stretch the field. Most importantly, he lead the team to a nine win season. He was very good, and he did it all on a team that still preferred to lean heavily on the run.

With as much talent on both sides of the ball as the Pack had in over a decade, Dave Doeren’s team had a good quarterback to anchor it. They almost didn’t, but Finley coming to Raleigh was a key ingredient, and a necessary one, in the creation of a team that would win a record number of ACC games. 2017 was Doeren’s launch pad. Finally having some notable success on the field has helped boost recruiting and create forward momentum that has been at deficient levels in Raleigh for years. None of it could have happened without a reliable quarterback coming in at the perfect time to save the day. Should State manage to turn this momentum into a turning point in NC State Football history, a certain transfer quarterback will have played a huge role in making it possible.

Now it’s 2018 and it’s Finley’s show. Matt Dayes is gone. Nyheim Hines is gone. Jaylen Samuels is gone. The bulk of the returning offense is Ryan Finley and his wide receivers, which might be the best group in Wolfpack history. Finley has already done a lot for NC State football. Now he has the opportunity to cement himself among some of the best to ever play the position for the Pack, and as we all know that’s no mediocre group. If he throws for 2,889 yards, he’d put his name second all-time in NC State history as a passer. That’s not too bad for “that kid from Boise” that nobody paid attention to.