Football Recruiting: Berger Bouncing Back

By Jeremy Birmingham on September 3, 2013 at 7:00p

The linebacker did what the linebacker had done thousands of times in his brief football career. 

See the ball. Find the ball. Stop the ball. The linebacker had no reason to think this time would be any different, but it was different. This was just a scrimmage, but a scrimmage that would significantly alter Kyle Berger's senior season; a senior season that was expected to be a big one for him and his St. Ignatius teammates.

Berger will be back.Berger's injury ended his senior season at St. Ignatius.

"They ran a screen to Eric Glover-Williams. I was rolling out to follow the play and I cut up field to hit him and I planted with my left leg," Berger told Eleven Warriors about the play that ended his season. "I felt a huge 'pop' and knew right away something was bad."

"(He) cut back after running towards my side of the field and I chased him down and we made eye contact and he fell out of bounds," Berger added about the play involving his future Buckeye teammate. "I still made the tackle, though."

Berger knew right away that the knee injury was serious, but he's trying to maintain a positive attitude in a situation that has beaten others mentally as much as it has beaten them physically.

"I'm doing alright," he said of his emotional frame of mind. "My parents have had a rough time though, especially my mom. I've been trying to not think about it too much. I've worked out as much as possible and ridden a stationary bike at least every day since last Monday, so that's keeping me busy, which is keeping my mind right."

Berger has made it a point to not think about his injury, instead he's counting his blessings. He's been buoyed by family, faith and football — as well as peace of mind knowing that this injury is a setback on his journey — and that it's not his final destination.

"The support I've got in my life is pretty much unbelievable, and that's made things so much easier in what could have been a really tough situation," he said. "My faith has played a huge role in keeping my mind right. I know that God has a plan for me and this is just a small setback. He has His reasons for why things happen the way they do and I know there are bigger and brighter days coming for me down the road. I've definitely learned to not take a single thing in life for granted, even something like a screen pass."

"Everything in life can be taken away from you, just like that. I've come to realize that I am not misfortunate," Berger continued. "Yes, I'm missing my senior year and that's hard to deal with, but there are kids out there who have never been able to play sports before; kids who get hurt and can't ever walk again and stuff like that. I'm losing a number of months in the long run and it definitely could be worse."

The exact severity of Berger's injury is not yet known — he's got his next meeting with the MRI machine Wednesday — but he's got an idea of where things stand and how things will be resolved. 

"The doctor said it's most likely the ACL, the MCL, the LCL and the meniscus that I injured," Berger said about the injury. "My doctor's done a great job and they are doing things in way that's best for the future, like using my patella tendon to replace my ACL as opposed to one from a cadaver or my hamstring."

Berger's football career is temporarily on hold, although he's stayed in regular contact with his future program. He admits that a chance to enroll at Ohio State early might help his rehab moving forward, but St. Ignatius policy prohibits their students from graduating early. He does rest easy knowing that his place in the Buckeyes' plans remains secure.

"My dad's first thoughts after the injury was to try and enroll early, but unfortunately that didn't work out," he said regarding his high school's rules. "I've talked to Ohio State a handful of times since the injury happened and they've been really awesome with it. They have been very supportive and told me and my family I had nothing to worry about with the scholarship offer and their plans for me. They just wished me the best and have been great."

Berger supports his teammatesBerger continues to be a great teammate despite his injury.

It's not just future coaches that have been in contact with Berger. He's heard from a number of future teammates and even players committed to a few of the Buckeyes' biggest rivals.

"A lot of the guys from the recruiting class have been in touch and it's been great hearing from everyone, getting their support. It's been especially good to hear from Jamarco because he's been going through some stuff of his own with his shoulder injury," Berger said of his fellow Buckeye commitment, Jamarco Jones. "He was really able to relate well and gave me some great advice that I've been able to take along the way. I've also talked to (Michigan commitment) Jared Wangler and (Notre Dame commitment) Quenton Nelson, they have been great to talk to."

With rehab underway and a path to a comeback established, Berger plans to do what he's always done to make sure that this temporary setback is as short-lived as possible.

"I'm going to work my tail off to get back to 100-percent," Berger said when asked about what he'd like to tell the thousands of Buckeye fans supporting him via proxy. "I'm going to come back bigger, strong and faster because I am going to come into Ohio State as a freshman and make a difference for the football team that we all love. I can't wait for the next time I put my helmet on again, and while I wish it was my Ignatius helmet, it'll be scarlet and gray and I will make an impact."



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BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

"Everything in life can be taken away from you, just like that. I've come to realize that I am not misfortunate," Berger continued. Yes, I'm missing my senior year and that's hard to deal with, but there are kids out there who have never been able to play sports before; kids who get hurt and can't ever walk again and stuff like that. I'm losing a number of months in the long run and it definitely could be worse."

The kid gets it. Best wishes in your recovery Kyle. Buckeye Nation is behind you.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

DenBuck's picture

Amen...great kid. Glad he's a BUCKEYE. 

Buckeye For Life

zbd's picture

He'll recover fine and get back to what he does best.

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Great kid from a great program. Happy he is a Buckeye and wish him the best in his recovery.

Buckeyefan4life's picture

Get well Kyle, Buckeye  Nation supports you and can't wait to see you run into the Shoe next year.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

As a veteran of 3 ACL blowouts - I can say first hand, the operation, rehab, and recovery SUCK!!!  Having said that, mine were at least 15 years and older so the procedure has changed drastically and down time is significantly less - however, it most certainly wears on your body and mind.  With the help of a boat load of Vicodin, Percocet, and an evil competition with the physical terrorist, er, therapist - you can recover fully!  The worst part, actually, is when you've been 'cleared' to go at it normally and you get into the first full throttle sports activity... you are amazingly scared to go at it because the fear of blowing your knee out again is front and center of your mind!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

awlinBrutus's picture

Arizona, by googling the inter webs one site said worst case, full recovery 9-12 months? generally speaking.


Arizona_Buckeye's picture

It was a mandatory 12 months off for mine.  It took a large incision down the front and on the side for them as well... I was talking to a guy who just had it done last year and it look as if he had a few small arthroscopic incisions.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Ethos's picture

Just get Better kyle! We look forward to seeing you on The field next year!

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

1967Buck's picture

  Stay True Kyle,My heart goes out to him. Wish him the best. Go Bucks....

MN Buckeye's picture

Great attitude, Kyle, and we wish you the best. What a fantastic support base you have in your family and friends!

allbucksallthetime's picture

Kyle Berger is a very impressive young man.  Like with any serious injury, Kyle's recovery won't be easy but he certainly has the right approach and mentality.
I'm also VERY impressed that other recruits who are NOT Buckeyes have reached out to Kyle.  That shows a maturity that we adults sometimes struggle with.  Go Bucks!

holtzy's picture

Great kid, great parents.  We support you Kyle!

FitzBuck's picture

Too bad he isn't able to rehab at OSU.  Look at how well JT s rehab went.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

southbymidwest's picture

Luckily, Cleveland Clinic isn't too shabby.

pjtobin's picture

So glad he is a Buckeye. What a great young man. I wish him a speedy recovery. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Donny T's picture

I'm no doctor, but ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus -- this sounds like a Willis McGahee type injury. What are the chances of a full recovery?

Maestro's picture

Injured doesn't mean completely torn.  The other ligaments can heal without reconstruction.  The meniscus also may not have been repaired.  If it was he will not bear weight for a while which would slow his rehab some.  It's good to be young and let's hope he heals fully.

vacuuming sucks

luckynutz's picture

McGahee made a full recovery and went on to have a decent NFL career. ACLs used to be career killers. Look at adrian peterson though...he came back better than before from his. Advancements in treatment have made ACLs much easier to fully recover from than in the past. With the right mindset and a great team of surgeons, doctors and physical therapists it can be done. Not every injury is the same of course, but from what I've seen with athletes recently it would seem that ACL tears aren't nearly the harbingers of doom they once were.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Wish him all the best, seems like a great kid with a great attitude.  I'm not really into religious dogma nor do I believe a higher power is pulling strings, I think bad things sometime happen randomly and how we deal with it shows our true character.  On the other hand, I also think we can manifest the reality we want, but it may takes forms other than what we originally thought HAD to happen.  Football may not end up being an option for Kyle, but I bet he will be successful in life regardless.  With his determination however, who knows, he could pull an Adrian Peterson and be a force to reckon with in a year or two.  Hope that happens.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

buckskin's picture

This setback gives him the opportunity to grow as a player in areas that are not measurable.  Commitment, toughness, sacrifice, desire, dedication to name a few.  Get well soon Kyle, Buckeye Nation is behind you all the way.

BlueBayou's picture

I can't link to twitter right now because I'm at work, but thought you guys would appreciate this tweet from Kyle.

Got a letter from Coach Mattison yesterday showing support, such a #ClassAct

Michigan's DC showing support for Kyle too, because some things are more important than allegiances and rivalries.  I'm wishing Kyle a quick and speedy recovery and will enjoy seeing him back on the field full strength.

thatlillefty's picture

Very mature kid. Wish him nothing but the best in his recovery.