The last week has proved critical for the future program of Justice Finkley. The Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt-Trussville defensive line prospect, who helped the Huskies to nine wins and another Class 7A playoff run in 2020, has trimmed his list of programs under consideration and set up his first two official visits.
Alabama, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Michigan, USC, Oregon, Stanford, Colorado and UCF remain in the mix for the 6'3", 265-pound trench talent. The top 12 was released on Friday.
On Sunday, he announced an official visit set for one of those programs, Texas, and its new coaching staff. It is set for the weekend of June 25-27.
"They seem to be genuine," Finkley said of Steve Sarkisian's staff. "I love their staff and how they see me as a 5-tech that can cover in their defense."
The weekend prior, June 18, he will make the trek to Ann Arbor to get a closer look at Michigan for an official visit.
"They talk about how I’m going to be used in their scheme," he said. "And how they can better me academically and physically."
Finkley says he is not closing on on picking between the dozen suitors still in the mix, but could begin to form that picture after taking more official visits in the summer and potentially into the fall. The virtual side of the recruiting process, prevalent over the last year more than ever before because of pandemic-influenced visit restrictions, is how the top group was formed.
Now it's time to get a physical impression from as many campuses as possible.
"I need to see everything," he said. "As in I need to see everything that I have talked about on the phone with that college serve as a visual."
Over the bulk of the last year, Finkley says he has focused more on his craft than recruiting as he heads into his senior season at Hewitt-Trussville, one of the top programs in the state of Alabama.
"I’ve been great, just trying to do everything in my power to get better," he said. "I view it as a three-legged table -- speed, strength and skill at my position. Hitting the weight room everyday for one. I joined the track team to work on my speed. I’ve working on my explosiveness, violent hands and adding more moves to my toolbox."
Finkley throws the shotput at track meets but runs with the sprinters during practice. He is also working on the mental aspect of football in search of pairing it with his actual game to take that next step as a player.
"For me, in my position, I feel that it’s important to review film from the previous year," he said. "I’ve been a lot more explosive coming out of my stance and more violent with my hands. I’ve also gotten a lot stronger and faster since last year."
While a decision could come after official visits, there is still fluidity when it comes to which other programs could get him on campus. Finkley also told SI All-American that his recruitment isn't quite down to a final 12, instead a top 12.
It means a program not named in the group from Friday could still have a shot at landing the signature of one of Alabama's best.
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