Former ‘Cats Finneran, Westbrook digging claws in NFL

Leslie Combs

Fans of Villanova football will be able to watch two former Wildcats battle the best in the NFL this fall.

After leaving his mark in history books, Villanova grad Brian Westbrook is currently in the midst of his first professional season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

While on the Main Line, the running back became the all-time, all-purpose yard leader in the history of collegiate football and was awarded the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in NCAA I-AA football in 2001.

Westbrook was drafted by the Eagles in April of 2002 and has had early success in the summer camps. Wearing No. 36, Westbrook has seen playing time in all three preseason games thus far, with his best NFL showing in Philadelphia’s 16-15 loss to New England Aug. 17.

He totaled 164 yds. on offense with 64 yds. rushing on 11 carries and 100 yds. on five touches in the return game. Sources at say Westbrook is aware that he has a lot to learn, but that he is currently focusing on the game trying hard not to fall prey to the mental and physical wall that impedes many professional rookies. Currently the former Wildcat is listed as third string running back, but in his first season, especially behind Duce Staley, it is not such a bad place to be. The Eagles are hoping that in the coming years Westbrook will evolve into a major impact player for their offensive squad.

Westbrook joins Brian Finneran a ’97 graduate of Villanova, a big name on campus during his tenure on the Main Line, who is entering his fourth season in the NFL.

The former Wildcat wide receiver preceded Brian Westbrook as the first Villanova player to receive the Walter Payton Award when he won the coveted prize in 1997 for being the top offensive player in NCAA I-AA football.

Despite his success on I-AA, Finneran was not drafted by the NFL, but attended camps in the summer of ’97 and became a member of the Seattle Seahawks. After an unsuccessful rookie season in the NFL, he traveled overseas to play in the NFL Europe with the Barcelona Dragons. During his one year tenure in Spain Finneran earned several honors and was signed by the Eagles in 2000. The Atlanta Falcons picked him up later in the year and is presently still with them. Finneran has recorded a receiving average of 17.9 yds. and a total of three career NFL touchdowns.

Finneran, who is married with two children, ages five and six spends his free time reading with Elementary children, and also spends his free time as a public speaker in local schools.