Note from Sports360AZ CEO Brad Cesmat:Wednesday is College Football National Letter of Intent Day. We asked Paradise Valley quarterback Ben Finley, who’s signing with North Carolina State, to share his high school experiences on and off the field, as well as why NC State was the best fit for him to continue his academic and athletic career.
My experience at Paradise Valley High School was nothing short of awesome. There are many reasons why I loved my four years at PV but my favorite was the football program. Growing up, I spent my childhood going to the football summer camps, my older brother’s games and even my sister’s athletic events. I would like to say that it was one of the best decisions I have made but it wasn’t much of a decision. I didn’t choose to go to PV like most other kids choose their high school. It was a given that I was going to go to PV, just like my brother and sister.
The Paradise Valley Football Program is one of the main reasons I am here today in this position. I can’t thank Head Coach Greg Davis enough for all of the things he taught me whether it was on the field or off. It didn’t hit me on how crazy of a decision it was to play me at the quarterback position my freshman year until this season. At the time I was 5-foot-9, 150 pounds playing at the varsity level against powerhouse schools. One thing that I learned from that year is football is a very fast sport and you have to have a plan.
My sophomore year was when I hit the lowest of all lows. It wasn’t until a week before the season when I started to really think about my happiness and the love for the game. I felt as if there was so much pressure on my shoulders since I played my freshman year. On top of that, I wasn’t having fun. The Saturday after the first game that season was one of the hardest days of my life. After many conversations with my parents and especially my brother, I decided that the game wasn’t for me. I cleaned out my locker and talked with Coach Davis. I wasn’t enjoying football because I inflicted so much pressure on myself that I lost my happiness. I thought I also lost the love of football but when talking to Coach Davis, I realized that I still loved the game and had to be happy. Forgetting about all the pressure and what everyone thought of me was how I got through that season. I am so glad that I chose to stick with football and continue to love the sport.
The next year the team struggled and we only had 22 players on the roster. This was the year where our team really started to come together and play as a team. We knew that individuals weren’t going to win us games and the camaraderie on our team was present. This is also the year I earned my first offer. Easily the greatest day of my life getting that phone call from Coach Jimmy Chang at Nevada. Later that year I received the offer that I had worked my whole high school career for and that was North Carolina State University. One of the comments I hear the most is, ‘You are only going to NC State because of your brother.’ I love this comment because deep down I know how hard it was to get that offer and I was extremely excited.
I chose NC State for many different reasons. My brother playing there was huge because I got to go to many of his games and see Raleigh, North Carolina. I fell in love with the college down and felt that I had the best chance to get to the NFL from NCSU. I also know the coaching staff very well at NC State and know that I will be coached by some of the best coaches in the country. I also know that I will be developed both a player and a man at NCSU.
As I recap my high school experience I am filled with nothing but happiness and know that I always remember my roots. I want to thank everyone that has been on this journey with me and will continue on. As I leave high school and continue on to college I would also like to share my thoughts on choosing a high school. I think one of the biggest mistakes kids make these days are transferring or going to a school-based on “how good the team is” or “I can get recruited there.” If you are good enough, they will find you. Go to YOUR school and just ball out.