The Blind Side brought attention to a family who rescued a young man from poverty and helped him earn a scholarship and an eventual job playing in the NFL. While it might represent the most famous story of its kind, those situations have occurred all over the world in various forms.
Jack Finney and his wife brought John Raymon into their life seven years ago. On Wednesday, the Class of 2011 defensive end from Eastern Pennsylvania verbally committed to the Iowa football team.
“People are going to write books about John,” Jack Finney said. “He had a tough upbringing. When we met him, he was 12 and really had an A-typical upbringing.
“It’s been great watching him grow. We’re very proud of him. He’s got a big heart. I think his teammates will enjoy him because he’ll have their back. He’s a guy you can take in the trenches with you. “
Finney reported that his son held offers from Iowa, Purdue, Illinois, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina State and Temple. He said about two dozen other schools showed interest in Raymon, some pretty serious.
“Many of them tried to get him on campus before they offered him,” Finney said. “We really didn’t see the point in that. There’s only so much time in the day.
“We spent the last 90 days visiting schools that did offer.”
Raymon and the Finneys came to Iowa City on Monday. They returned home to Pennsylvania and decided it was the place for the 6-foot-5, 245-pounder.
“A Big Ten education is very important to John,” Finney said. “And going to Iowa, he has an opportunity to play for a national championship. A lot of the (other head) coaches were great, but the way the Iowa coach (Kirk Ferentz) stayed engaged in the whole process, from the beginning to the end. That really influenced John.
“On Monday, he got to sit down with a couple of seasoned players and he got a lot out of that. We didn’t get that at every place. It’s hard to describe, but that shaped his decision.”
Raymon wasn’t wanting to drag out the recruiting process, Finney said, so the DE was happy he found the right fit.
“There’s a level of stress for these kids that goes unnoticed,” Finney said. “He told me that during schools kids were coming up and asking where he was going to go all of the time. That might not be that big of a deal for adults, but it weighs on kids.”
Finney said that Raymon’s wing span is 6-10 or 6-11 and he has a 36-inch vertical leap.
“He’s also very, very strong,” Finney said.