It's been mentioned on here time and time again, but one of the top priorities of the Ohio State coaching staff is to keep the best player in the state of Ohio in the state of Ohio to play their college football for the Buckeyes. They were able to accomplish this with Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius linebacker Kyle Berger.
Take a trip down memory lane and find out what kind of early impact he could have for the Buckeyes, as we bring you "Bucks to the Future", the Kyle Berger story.
Weight: 215 pounds
247Sports Composite: number ten linebacker, fifth ranked player in the state of Ohio, and 157th overall prospect in the 2014 recruiting class.
HIgh School: St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland, Ohio
Berger's recruitment took off in November of 2012 when he received his first scholarship offer from Ohio State, just days before he was set to visit Columbus for the annual Ohio State-Michigan game. Berger was also offered by Cincinnati just days before making his first big college visit to Ohio State to watch the Buckeyes take on their arch-rival in The Game.
His first big college trip went really well as he got to witness one of the greatest rivals in college football and saw the Buckeyes run their record to a perfect 12-0 after the Bucks topped the Wolverines in a pretty close game. He also got to rush the field after the game along with many fans and other recruits who were in attendance.
Though the visit went very well, Berger did not commit to the Scarlet and Gray, which some in-state prospects do after receiving an offer from the Scarlet and Gray.
Before his next trip to Columbus, Berger received scholarship offers from the likes of West Virginia, Michigan State, and Illinois. Just a couple of months after visiting Ohio State to watch the big Ohio State-Michigan contest, Berger was ready to make a return to Columbus in order watch the basketball Buckeyes take on Michigan and also to get a more in-depth look at the Ohio State campus.
He had yet another good visit to Columbus, where he saw the basketball team upset the Wolverines. This was also the day Damon Webb verbally committed to Ohio State. In any event, the standout linebacker went back to Cleveland as an uncommitted prospect and wanted to check out other schools before making any decision.
Offers continued to roll in for the then high school junior. He quickly added offers from Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Boston College, Maryland, Northwestern, UCLA, Duke and Arkansas. Next up on the visit trail was a trip north to Ann Arbor to check out the Michigan campus.
Oh, Berger's infamous visit to Ann Arbor. The visit was reportedly going pretty well until Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, well screwed up....Big time. In Berger's final meeting before heading back to Cleveland, Hoke called him Alex and didn't even catch his major mistake. Berger would later tell me the full story of Hoke calling him by the wrong first name.
"I was walking out of a meeting with all of the Michigan coaches. My dad and I were talking to Coach Mattison when we were walking out and I heard Coach Hoke say something like, "See ya, Alex. Thanks for coming!" Coach Heck and Coach Mattison immediately realized Coach Hoke's mistake and started talking to me and my dad," Berger said. "I'm not sure Coach Hoke noticed the mistake he had made right away. I tried not to factor this into my decision."
Just about a week after completing his trip to Michigan, Berger was in Columbus yet again, on the visit that would lead into his commitment. While he didn't commit to the Buckeyes on the visit, he left for Cleveland feeling very strongly about the Scarlet and Gray.
Following the visit to Michigan that didn't exactly end well, Berger made a trip to Knoxville to visit the Tennessee Volunteers. This visit went pretty well, but when it was all said and done it was his first and only trip to Knoxville as a commitment was imminent.
On April 8th, 2013, just about two weeks after visiting Tennessee, Berger decided he was completely sure where he wanted to go to school and committed to The Ohio State University, effectively ending his recruitment.
I talked to Berger shortly after he committed in the Scarlet and Gray and he had the following to say on why he decided to end his recruitment early and commit to the Buckeyes.
"Originally I was planning on committing in May or so," Berger stated. "However, when I had my visit to Ohio State a couple of weeks ago, I fell in love with the school. I talked to Blake Thomas (now former Buckeye TE and a former high school teammate of Berger's) and a few other guys and they said I would know when a school feels right for me. I thought about it over spring break and decided I was ready to commit to OSU."
Berger told the Ohio State coaching staff he was committing by simply telling Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Luke Fickell that he would be calling him once school was over on April 8th. On the call, Berger gave Fickell the good news and the OSU coaching staff was very excited.
"I messaged Coach Fickell on Twitter and told him I was going to be calling him after school," Berger continued. "I called him and gave him the news. He was very excited and then he told me he was going to put Coach Meyer on the phone. Coach Meyer came out of a meeting and I told him I was committing. He was really happy and told me I had made his month. I also heard him yelling to people that I had committed."
His relationships with Luke Fickell and Urban Meyer played a big factor in his college decision.
"I have a really good relationship with both of them," he said. "I talk to Coach Fickell almost every day and Coach Meyer about once a week. We know each other pretty well, so we just talk about non-football things and how I would be used in their defense."
The St. Ignatius standout also had a message for Buckeye fans after committing to the Scarlet and Gray.
"I'm ready to come in and give it my all and help Coach Meyer win another crystal ball," Berger stated. "I can't wait to get to Columbus and work my butt off on the football field."
After his commitment, Berger's recruitment featured a lot of ups and downs.
Just a couple of days after committing, Berger had a minor to repair a hernia, but he only had to sit out of physical activities for about a month, so it was nothing too major.
Berger attended the NFTC camp in Columbus at the beginning of June and earned an invitation to Nike's "The Opening" following a very impressive showing at the camp.
OSU commit Kyle Berger in 1 on 1 competition https://t.co/NknGLPVkco— Miles Joseph (@MilesLGHL) June 2, 2013
Linebackers MVP: Kyle Berger— Miles Joseph (@MilesLGHL) June 2, 2013
The star linebacker went on to impress many onlookers at Nike's The Opening 2013 at the beginning of July.
I thought LB Kyle Berger did a great job today. He had a pick six, looked athletic. I came away impressed.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 3, 2013
Kyle Berger (6-1.5 222) ran a 4.73 and a 4.21 shuttle, with a 31.6" vertical.— Tony Gerdeman (@GerdOzone) July 1, 2013
After strong showings in the camp season, Berger was poised for a strong senior season and hoped to lead St. Ignatius to a state championship.
Unfortunately, his season ended before it started as he tore his ACL in the final scrimmage leading up to the regular season, which forced him to sit out his final high school season.
Despite a torn ACL, Berger made the trip to Columbus just a few weeks after the injury occurred in order to watch the Buckeyes take on San Diego State in the second game of the season. Berger enjoyed watching the game and liked the trip as a whole.
His next trip to Columbus came at the end of October when he made the trip to the state's capital to watch the Buckeyes take on Penn State under the highlights. He got to see the Scarlet and Gray absolutely destroy the Nittany Lions. He got to help recruit Raekwon McMillan, who at the time was an un-committed prospect.
Then just a little over a month ago, Berger officially became a member of the Ohio State football team when he signed and faxed his national letter of intent to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. After he signed, he had the following to say about the recruiting process.
"Meeting all the kids and coaches," Berger said about his favorite part of the recruiting process. "The relationships I built with people I know will last a very long time and possibly the rest of my life."
Ohio State is kidding a good player and even better kid in Kyle Berger.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has made it clear that the four linebackers in this class, Berger, Raekwon McMillan, Sam Hubbard, and Dante Booker Jr., won't be redshirting and will be expected to be ready to play from the day they set foot on campus.
While Hubbard (to an extent as he played safety in high school) and Booker are freak athletes, they might need a year to learn the position a little better, especially Booker. McMillan and Berger on the other hand are more college ready and I think both will see a lot of playing time if they perform well in fall camp.
One thing to watch with Berger is how strong he can come back from his injury. He didn't play football last year, so it might be asking too much for him to step right into the rotation, but I think he's more than capable of doing it.
He could fill in at either outside linebacker spot (SAM or WILL) with weak-side linebacker being the most likely right now in my opinion. I also think he needs to add some muscle/gain some weight as his currently listed weight is 215 pounds, which is on the light side for a linebacker.
Land-Grant Holy Land football analyst Christopher Jason had the following to say on Berger:
Berger is a throwback outside linebacker who is very solid against the run and isn't afraid to get dirty along the line of scrimmage. Playing outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage, Berger was aggressive against run blockers and never took a play off. He also possesses excellent sideline-to-sideline speed and takes great pursuit angles when runs would go the other way. Berger tore his ACL in late August and I would suspect that he will be redshirted this season to get back into shape and gain back muscle mass.
Did you know...
- Berger attended the same high school (Cleveland St. Ignatius) as current Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan.
- He is set to graduate with former Buckeye target and Notre Dame offense guard signee Jimmy Byrne.
- In addition to that, he played with and is also good friends with 2015 Buckeye defensive end target Dre'Mont Jones who holds a Buckeye offer and is seriously considering the Scarlet and Gray.
It's safe to say Berger will be recruiting his former teammate to play with him in the Scarlet and Gray.
- Finally, Berger was one of the leaders of the "Dream 14" recruiting class.