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Penn running back and 1998 Bushnell Cup winner Jim Finn hopes to be an NFL fullback. In a few days, what once was a childhood dream could become reality for Wharton senior Jim Finn. Four years ago, Finn joined the University of Pennsylvania football team, making the jump from the high school to the collegiate level. Now in his final weeks at Penn, Finn awaits his chance to make it to the next level -- the NFL. "I always kidded around with my close friends that I wanted to play fullback in the NFL," Finn said. "Nobody believed me. They all thought I was crazy." In a year highlighted with record breaking rushes and an Ivy League Championship, Finn received the Bushnell Cup as the best player in the Ivy League. With one quest still unfulfilled, Finn will travel to New York this weekend with the hope of being selected in the 1999 NFL Draft. A few years ago, this would have seemed like an unlikely situation. Third on the depth charts at running back, Finn opted to move to the other side of the ball so he could receive some playing time. After a stellar sophomore year at cornerback, Finn had found his place on the team. A few games and a couple injuries into the 1997 season, however, the Quakers were in desperate need of a running back. Then a junior, Finn stole the show and finished the season with 155 rushes for 801 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning first-team All-Ivy honors. This past season, the senior running back led the Ivies with 323 carries for 1,450 yards and 17 touchdowns, breaking Penn's record for carries and yards in a season. "He was an intricate part of the offense," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "We put the ball in his hands 35 to 45 times a game. His success and the team's success went hand and hand." Along with the awards and records has come the attention -- from media, fans and, most importantly, from the scouts. "A while back, I was just praying to get noticed," Finn said. "Now when you see these people actually coming, you're saying, 'My name must be going around.'" Unfortunately for Finn, coming from the Ivy League could hurt his outcome on Draft Day. "People in the NFL will downgrade his achievements," said Alan Herman, Finn's agent. "They normally look to downgrade a player's ability from the Ivy League because of the level of competition." In support of Finn's chances, several Ivy League players in recent years -- Marcellus Wiley of Columbia and the Buffalo Bills and Zach Waltz of Dartmouth and the Arizona Cardinals are just two of nine Ivy alumni on NFL rosters -- have shown that once given the chance, members of the Ancient Eight can succeed in the NFL. Chad Levitt, a running back from Cornell who came into the league in 1997 with the Raiders and was recently acquired by the Rams, has given Finn a lot of encouragement. "I think guys that have been in there have made a positive influence and have shown that we can play," Finn said. "No one is going to take for granted that an Ivy Leaguer can play. You are going to have to prove it every day." Another hurdle for Finn has been to prove to scouts that he can play the fullback position in the NFL. As the featured back for the Quakers, Finn was Penn's main ball handler. In the NFL, Finn would move from tailback to fullback, a position that relies more on the player's ability to receive and block. "He will have to learn a new position in the NFL," Herman said. "They have some question on how good of a blocker is he. Teams in the NFL like to see it on game film. Jim does not have the opportunity to show them." While Finn has been able to showcase his receiving skills during his tryouts, the scouts will have to use instinct in deciding if the 6'1", 249-lb. fullback-to-be can block. "I feel most comfortable catching the ball," Finn said. "It wasn't a major concern. I am not going to be doing any blocking until I get into camp, so I was just staying in shape and working out, trying to impress them with my combine numbers." As the draft has drawn closer, Finn's chances of being drafted have increased. The Penn running back's participation in four offseason tryouts in front of 16 teams has turned the heads of many scouts. Finn's performance has included running the 40 yard dash in 4.53 and benching 225 lbs. 25 times. "I definitely made a positive influence on these people when I worked out for them," Finn said. "I have raised a few eyebrows." As for Finn's competition, Syracuse's Rob Konrad, projected as a first-round pick, is the head of the fullback class. After Konrad, the field is wide open. Shawn Bryson from Tennessee and Jeff Pauk from Arizona State will most likely be selected before Finn. After that, it is anyone's guess. While not trying to speculate when Finn might be selected, Herman feels the Penn running back has a high probability of being drafted. "It will come down to the wire with Jim as to whether he is drafted," Herman said. "If he is not drafted in the sixth or seventh round, then he will be a highly sought-after free agent. He will be in an NFL camp. There is no doubt about it."

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