TJ Finley has plenty of support heading into his first start as Auburn’s quarterback.
One of his supporters is one of his childhood heroes.
Former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton called Finley last week and has offered a guiding voice for the first-year Tiger on the way into his first start with Auburn at South Carolina on Saturday.
The pair spoke on the phone after Finley’s heroics against Georgia State and they spoke again last week.
“He’s one of the most inspirational people in my life,” Finley said Wednesday. “I’ve looked up to him since I was a little kid.
“To say that he’s reaching out to me as a little brother and helping me throughout my path of college football, it means a lot to me.”
Finley shared on Wednesday that Newton called him shortly before Newton’s signing with the Carolina Panthers last week and the pair went through a devotional together during the conversation.
“I don’t want to say the things that he told me, but, it was a lot of stuff talked about — I’m lowkey getting emotional about it right now because the things we talked about came to fruition,” Finley said.
Since that conversation, Newton has since gotten his next chance in the NFL and has returned to Carolina after being cut by the New England Patriots at the end of preseason camp, and Finley has since seen his first opportunity come as a starter at Auburn.
Finley said he first met Newton at a 7-on-7 camp his senior year of high school.
“I think I was already taller than him,” Finley laughed, “so I stood out above everybody. He came and introduced himself to me. At the time I was committed to LSU so we had no connection. Ever since then, we’ve kind of been here and there on Instagram and things like that, but the time he did call me was after the Georgia State game.”
Finley figures Newton got his number from his brother, Auburn receiver Caylin Newton. He said Cam called him after he led the game-winning drive to pull Auburn out of that Georgia State game.
“I was just like, ‘Wow. I can’t believe this is happening,’” he said of the call.
Newton’s been keeping up with Finley since.
With Bo Nix sidelined for the rest of the season after suffering an ankle injury in Auburn’s loss to Mississippi State, Finley is taking over as starter for the Tigers. The LSU transfer has appeared in a few games this season, and led Auburn on a game-winning touchdown drive against Georgia State, but this will be Finley’s first start for Auburn.
Auburn and Finley will take on South Carolina this Saturday at 6 p.m.