Cumberland resident Joe Fine (8), a three-year starter for Cumberland High who is shown in action during a non-league game last season against Cranston West, joins a 22-player class at Bryant University that includes 11 New England players. Fine, a fullback/linebacker, will be playing for his father, head coach Marty Fine. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
CUMBERLAND â€” The opportunity for a father to coach his son in a college setting does not come around very often.
For Cumberland High senior Joe Fine, you can officially swap out â€śopportunityâ€ť and replace it with â€śreality.â€ť
Beginning this fall, there will be two Fines on the football sideline occupied by Bryant University. Head coach Marty Fine listed son Joe as part of the programâ€™s latest recruiting effort on Wednesday. The Bulldogsâ€™ 22-player class includes players from 10 different states with 11 being from New England.
While it was a foregone conclusion for quite some time that Joe Fine would be heading to Bryant, a mini-celebration involving family members sharing hugs and handshakes undoubtedly took place once the admissions department received all the appropriate paperwork. Such an important step officially signaled the end of Marty Fineâ€™s days of sitting in the stands in the role of concerned parent while Joe got after it for the Clippers.
â€śHeâ€™s going to have a great opportunity to play for his dad, which is something Iâ€™m sure a lot of people wish they could do,â€ť expressed Chris Skurka, who served as Joe Fineâ€™s head coach at Cumberland. â€śItâ€™s a great situation for Marty to have his son playing for him.â€ť
A three-year starter for the Clippers, Fine played a key role in the teamâ€™s Division II Super Bowl title in 2012 and a runner-up finish this past season. His actual role in Skurkaâ€™s scheme encompassed a little bit of everything, from carrying the ball out of the backfield, to chasing down opponents at linebacker, to even handling the long-snap duties.
â€śHe just does a lot of things well. Heâ€™s a heady, smart football player that no matter what role he plays, heâ€™ll flourish,â€ť Skurka said. â€śHe was able to take on whatever we gave him, even at a young age.â€ť
According to the bio compiled by Bryant, Fine is listed as a fullback/linebacker who measures out at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds. He earned all-league honors as a sophomore, junior and senior while garnering all-state honors as a senior. His high-school varsity career saw him rush for 1,600 yards and 33 touchdowns. His numbers on the other side of the ball are just as impressive as Fine collected a school-record 296 tackles and seven interceptions.
Fine becomes the second Cumberland football player in as many years to make the jump from Mendon Road to the Smithfield campus. Mitchell Baxter, a wide receiver, helped blaze the Cumberland-to-Bryant trail when he inked his National Letter of Intent last February.
â€śItâ€™s a great opportunity for Joe and I think heâ€™s worthy of playing at that level,â€ť Skurka feels.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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