N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley is not the first college football player to graduate and transfer to another school but he might be the first to do so with three years of eligibility.
The NCAA granted Finley, who graduated from Boise State in the spring and transferred to N.C. State, a sixth year of eligibility earlier this month. N.C. State made the announcement official on Tuesday on its website.
Finley missed 10 games last season at Boise State with an ankle injury and all of his freshman season in 2014 with a shoulder injury. The general rule of eligibility is you get “five to play four” or five years, from when your college clock starts, to compete in four seasons.
The NCAA does grant an extra, “sixth year,” in unusual cases where multiple seasons are missed due to injury. Duke had a pair of sixth-year players last season.
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What makes Finley’s case unique is he graduated in three years from Boise State and now has three years of eligibility remaining. Finley and redshirt sophomore Jalan McClendon were both listed as starters in the depth chart released by N.C. State on Tuesday.
Their names were separated by an “OR” and, according to the school website, both “will definitely play” in the season opener on Sept. 1 against William & Mary.
Most N.C. State fans are familiar with the graduate transfer rule, implemented by the NCAA in 2003, which allows players to graduate and transfer without sitting out a year. Most undergraduate transfers have to sit out a year before playing under NCAA rules.
Russell Wilson might be the most famous graduate transfer in college football history. Wilson started at N.C. State for three seasons from 2008 to ’10. He graduated from N.C. State and then transferred to Wisconsin for his final college season in 2011. A third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2012, Wilson still refers to being from “a whole Pack of Badgers.”
There have been other examples of ACC players who have transferred with more than one year of eligibility remaining. Danny O’Brien graduated from Maryland in 2012 and had two seasons of eligibility when he transferred to Wisconsin. He played one year at Wisconsin before finishing his college career at Catawba.
Finley is one of three graduate transfers listed on the depth chart with center Joe Scelfo (South Alabama) and kicker Connor Haskins (UNC-Pembroke). Scelfo is slated to start while Haskins and sophomore Kyle Bambard are listed the same way as Finley and McClendon, as co-starters.
Finley started three games for Boise State last season before a broken ankle in the first quarter of the third game sidelined him for the season. The injury cost him his starting job to Brett Rypien. Finley graduated and followed offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz from Boise State to N.C. State.
Finley and McClendon, who was Jacoby Brissett’s backup the past two years, have split reps with the first team in practice. According to the information on the school web site: “We may not know who will start the first series of the first game until game day, but both have had solid fall camps.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio