Dennis Finley Feature: Trusting The Process
Spartan Senior Offensive Lineman
By Cassi White, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Standing tall and proud at six feet and seven inches, Michigan State offensive tackle Dennis Finley looks back at his past four seasons here with “no regrets” and has developed into the kind of man he wants to be.
Finley began his football career in high school – something uncommon for most Division I football players. Most began perfecting their craft long before Finley even started, but once he stepped foot on the field at Cass Tech High School in Detroit it was like he never missed a beat.
After leading the Technicians to two straight Division I state championships and earning multiple accolades his senior year, Finley had an important decision to make: where would he continue his success? Where would he spend the next four to five years of his life? Where would he perfect his craft?
The answer was simple: Michigan State.
He made the choice among other Big Ten universities, but Michigan State had something special that those other schools did not. Michigan State had a coaching staff that created a connection with Finley.
“The atmosphere, the people, it was how it was back in high school,” Finley explained. “It was brotherly. The coaches cared about each other, and they cared about the players. I felt that here, and when I got here, nothing changed. It was very family oriented and everybody cared about each other.”
After two years of working his way through the depth chart, Finley earned his way to some playing time.
On a very rainy day on Oct. 3, 2015, Finley went down in the first half of the game against Purdue. It was his first career start that ended all too quickly with a broken tibia and fibula.
“It’s a day I’ll never forget,” Finley said.
It’s a moment he will never forget because anything can change in an instant. Instead of feeling sorry about it, he tried to find the positives.
“I just learned that you can’t really control what happens, but you can control how you bounce back from it. How you bounce back from that adversity,” Finley added.
Finley credits his teammates when it came to his recovery process.
“It was a rough time, but just being with the players and having that great atmosphere and having them have my back is what pushed me mentally,” Finley explained.
The bond he shares with his teammates is something he wouldn’t trade for the world.
Early mornings, long days, late nights, bus rides, flights, team meals, team movies, team bowling and of course grueling workouts, practice and games—day in and day out, they are surrounded by one another.
“During practice it’s offense versus defense, but when it’s game day we are all one team. Team chemistry is something that we’ve worked on and it shows. I love my teammates,” Finley said, smiling.
Finley is ready to show Spartan Nation what he and his teammates can do. His senior season is upon us, meaning that this will be the last season that he dons the Green and White on Saturdays in the fall.
“Listening to your fans root for you, it’s a different vibe,” Finley smiled. “The energy is elevated to a different level, as the game goes on all of those jitters go away. The excitement, enthusiasm, there’s really nothing like it.”
Finley plans on graduating in December with a degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science. After that, he will continue the internship he started this summer with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
“I’m definitely going to continue that (internship). It was an awesome opportunity where I learned a lot and worked with some great people,” Finley said.
With plans and aspirations for his future, he still strongly believes that everything happens for a reason and that everything will work out, no matter where life takes him.
He knows that his family, his teammates and his coaches will all be there for him every step of the way as they have been.
“My mom, my grandma, my father, sister and cousin are all so supportive of me. They see the potential in me, they see what I can be and that’s definitely something that I appreciate,” Finley said of his family’s support.
Finley is ready to kick off the 2017 season in the best way possible: arm in arm with his teammates in Spartan Stadium.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time,” Finley said of being a senior. “Exciting because life always has a new chapter. Nerve-wracking because the anxiousness of where time will take you and just wanting to know what’s going to happen.”
For the past five years, Finley has learned a lot. He’s overcome adversity, found a future career and formed relationships with his teammates and coaches that will last a lifetime.
“As long as I give my 100 percent effort workwise and playing-wise, no matter what happens, everything will work out and fall into place.”