BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Just three days after being added to the Ray Guy Award watch list for best punter in the nation for the 2019 football season, the UB Bulls took on powerhouse Penn State at Happy Valley in a game that would change sophomore punter Evan Finegan’s life.
Halfway through the third quarter, UB goes three and out on offense, and Finegan steps up to punt. As his extended kicking leg connects with the ball, a Nittany Lion defender also makes contact with the leg, and Finegan hits the ground. Trainers from UB and Penn State rush over, and immediately pump up an air cast on his right leg before carting him off the field.
Finegan suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg, ending his sophomore season. What would happen afterwards would be an outpouring of love and support from across the nation.
Penn State head coach James Franklin and members of the Nittany Lions football team visited Finegan in the hospital after he recovered from his surgery.
Finegan also made an appearance on ESPN’s Sports Center. He’s received hundreds of letter in the mail from fans around the country. He even got a personal phone call from Joe Theismann, who suffered a similar injury in a game against the New York Giants in 1985.
“The outreach from everywhere, the Buffalo community and the college football community, has been amazing. I’m still receiving hundreds of letters every week,” Evan Finegan said. “People just writing to me, saying hope you feel well, hope you get better soon, we hope to see you back punting in the near future.”
“It’s been just incredible how people have responded.”
And, as you can imagine, the Bulls were very glad to see him when he made his return to Buffalo.
On Tuesday, just 16 days after the surgery to repair his broken leg, Finegan walked at practice for the first time without crutches.
“I was really overjoyed, I’m a little bit sore today, but that’s to be expected, but I’m just really overwhelmed,” Finegan said. “To already be walking, just in a boot, no crutches or anything, it seems like it’s just coming along really quick. I’ll try to keep a positive attitude and just keep working hard towards it.”
Finegan was granted a medical redshirt for the remainder of the season, and hopes to be back to punting come spring practice.