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Q&A: Kansas State center B.J. Finney

4/23/2014

B.J. Finney epitomizes the Kansas State era under coach Bill Snyder.

Finney arrived in Manhattan, Kan., as a walk-on, earned a scholarship, then started 39 games at center for the Wildcats while becoming a first-team All-Big 12 performer. Finney, who will anchor the K-State offensive line next season as a senior, talked with ESPN.com on a range of topics as the Wildcats prepare for this weekend's spring game:

What is the confidence level of this team after the way you finished last season?

BF: I would say our confidence is high in the fact we know we can be a great team. It’s about how hard we’re willing to work to be that great team. We have that athletic ability to make great plays. It’s about playing consistent and working to be that great team.

What was the difference between the first half of the season and the second when you played so well?

BF: I think the main thing was we took our performance for granted as a team. There wasn’t a whole lot of change from the coaches standpoint, the routine was the same as far as practices, meetings; we had the same game plan. We just didn’t play well enough. We felt like we would play well, but we weren’t doing the things necessary during the week to play well.

How would you compare this team right now to the one that eventually captured the Big 12 title in 2012?

BF: There’s a lot of the same characteristics. Just different personnel. We have the guys that can make the big plays. It all boils down to working hard, staying focused and not taking anything for granted. That team was the hardest working team I’d been around as a whole. In terms of staying focused, developing, improving. We had the belief we could be great, and the only thing standing in the way was ourselves and how bad wanted it. Everything was in place for that season to take place. It just took the hard work to make it happen.

What have you seen from Jake Waters over the last year?

BF: Jake has grown into his own. He’s more comfortable, more confident. He’s stepped into a leadership role. The guys look to him. He fits in with the team very well, the brotherhood. All he wants to do is win, which makes him a perfect fit here.

Who has impressed you this spring?

BF: I would say team has as a whole. We’ve gone back and forth in the scrimmages. The offense wins one day, the defense the next.

Has anyone specific caught your eye?

BF: Honestly, I can’t answer that. Coach (Snyder) says to refrain from answering those kind of questions.

What are your thoughts on the Auburn game? I know you guys have a couple tough games before that, but that would seem to be a springboard opportunity for this team going up against the defending national runner-up?

BF: It’s a great opportunity that sits in front of us. We have a tough schedule, the game before that we’re playing Iowa State at Iowa State, and that early on in the season, that’s going to be a tough game, too.

What was it like growing up in Andale, Kan., which has a population under 1,000?

BF: I actually grew up in Clearwater (Kan.) and moved to Andale the summer before high school. Clearwater is 30 minutes outside of Wichita. But both were small-town farming communities. It was awesome. Everyone knew everybody. All your friends were in town. When people think of small-town America, those are the towns they think of. Everyone was always willing to help out. It was a blessing to have a community like that growing up.

Did you grow up on a farm?

BF: I actually didn’t, but I grew up working on a family friend’s farm. We did it all. We moved cattle from pasture to pen. We worked the harvest, worked the garden. We bottle-fed the calves.

What was your favorite thing to do on the farm?

BF: Probably bottle-feeding the calves. Getting out and making sure the calves were doing all right. Bottle-feeding was always the last chore of the evening. It took almost an hour-and-half to do all the calves. Doing that with my best friend and his brothers, it was a fun time.

I read you’re a history major. What history is your focus?

BF: I mainly focus on history of the United States. I want to be a high school history teacher and a football coach.

I’ve studied everything, Imperial Germany to the Aztecs and Mayans to China in 1,200 B.C.

What is your favorite subject?

BF: I would say anything war-related. The Civil War, the First World War, World War II, Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Seven Years War. Anything war related. I like learning how tactics, weaponry, technology changed how everything was won. What caused victories and defeat in battle.

When you become a football coach and history teacher, will you farm again, too?

BF: I would say more of those days in front of me.