MORGANTOWN - When B.J. Finney was a high school senior at Andale High near Wichita, Kan., he dreamed of playing college football for ... Wait for it ...
"Oh, yeah,'' Finney said. "And it was all set, or so I thought.''
Now before anyone gets the idea that somewhere in the heart of Kansas resides a deep pocket of Bobcat fans or maybe Frank Solich relatives, understand why it was that Finney's dream was to play across the Ohio River - from here, not from Wichita - in Athens, Ohio.
"It was the only place that would give me a scholarship,'' Finney recalled. "Or at least I thought they were going to give me one.''
A couple of funny things happened along the way, however. Well, actually just one thing happened and Finney didn't find it too funny. Just as he was about to go to Ohio for his official visit, the school called and stopped him. They'd handed out a scholarship to another offensive lineman. Not only was it Finney's, it was the school's last.
Well, come to think of it, another funny thing did happen. Finney, who couldn't beg for a Division I scholarship, even from Ohio U, wound up walking on at nearby Kansas State. Did OK there, too.
OK? How about redshirting a year and then starting every game for the last 21/2 seasons? On Saturday, when Kansas State hosts West Virginia, Finney will be making his 33rd consecutive start. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound junior center is not just a starter, he's a captain for the second year and he's on the watch lists for the Rimington, Outland and Lombardi awards.
And he could have been at Ohio, toiling away in absurdity.
"There obviously was a divine power at work,'' Finney said. "There's no other way to explain it.''
Finney's story, though, is about more than a walk-on getting a chance and succeeding.
His father died nine years ago of a heart attack. His mother works two jobs in the Andale school system, including as a bus driver who used to drive her son's wrestling and football teams to away matches and games.
He grew up a Kansas State fanatic almost, yet wasn't deemed good enough for a scholarship. That might have been OK if he and his mother could have afforded to pay his way as a walk-on, but they couldn't. They needed a scholarship in order to send him to college and so his options were pretty much limited to a wrestling grant to Division II Pittsburg State or the Ohio University offer, which was his only shot at Division I football.