Rashod Berry's Winding Road to Success

By Jeremy Birmingham on December 28, 2014 at 11:00 am
Rashod Berry's hard work paid off.

In the summer of 2013, on a sweltering hot day Columbus, Ohio day, a then 6-foot-5, 215 pound Rashod Berry raced around the Ohio State practice fields. Decked out in compression gear and a helmet, Berry was running, hitting, and showcasing rare athleticism for a prospect of his size. He was there hoping to catch the eye of his favorite school's coaching staff and the one-day camps at Ohio State were the best place to do it. These camps provide an opportunity to showcase your skills to the Buckeye coaching staff in person. Often times, especially for Ohio's best talents, they led to scholarship chances.

Berry didn't disappoint that day, he was as athletic as Mike Vrabel had thought. It was Vrabel who first caught a glimpse of Berry's potential talent as a sophomore, but on the basketball court not the gridiron. He knew he wanted a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes, but there was work to be done in the classroom.

"When the Buckeyes first started to notice me, I was pretty excited," Berry told Eleven Warriors. "But my coach told me I was going to have to work hard."

Knowing you have to work hard is of course worlds apart from actually working hard. It took a bit of time for that to set in. Berry says his "struggles" were nothing but self-imposed problems caused by his own laziness.

"I was just lazy," he said of the issues in the classroom that kept him from garnering more recruiting attention during his junior season. That is normally the year talent like his gets put on the big stage. "I realized I just had to do my work, it wasn't that I couldn't do it before, I just didn't. I started studying more, and I got more help where I needed it. My coach (Mark Solis, now at Olentangy) told me I had to man up, and that's what I did. I grew up."

Growing up mentally isn't always easy when you're so used to being advanced physically. The setbacks off the athletic fields has sidetracked many talented players' careers, but Berry wanted to be different. 

"I was raised with just my mom and my grandma, but mostly just my mom," he said. "I want to take care of her one day, so she just keeps me going. She means the world to me and I want to take care of her. I had to tell myself every single day to keep handling adversity and not let it get me down. Every single day. A lot of kids in Lorain would have looked for another way out, and I didn't want to be a different face with the same story. I stayed positive. I think I can inspire the younger kids around here a lot. There's a lot of them with talent and I hope they look at me and see that we can go as far as possible (by doing the hard work)."

For Berry, the hard work was not only in the classroom. After his "wasted" junior season, he knew he'd have to step up his game and make himself impossible for Ohio State to pass up, if they decided to take another look in his direction.

"I went through three head coaches in my high school career," Berry said his time with the Knights. "That was bad for me. They knew I had talent but didn't really push me like I needed and wanted, and I got lazy. I think Ohio State saw that and thought I wasn't improving. I needed to get faster and stronger and work on my technique, really learn to use my hands more. I felt like I lost the chance to end up at Ohio State when Coach Solis left."

Between then and now, Berry did regain some of his recruiting traction. He picked up offers from Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and others. It was at the beginning of his senior season when the Buckeyes' Stan Drayton re-opened the lines of communication with the two-way Lorain star.

"Stan Drayton started talking to me again," the now 6-foot-5, 240-pounder said. "He basically told me that I had a chance. I went out every week and improved and I think it made them happy to see the development. I was not being lazy anymore and they saw that. I went down there for a game and then they offered. I was wordless, honestly. I felt like I was on top of the world, it's hard to explain. I was trying to keep myself calm but I wanted to just start going crazy."

The offer he'd dreamed of had arrived, the chance to play football at Ohio State was before him and the two years of ups and downs had finally leveled off. Still, Berry had some doubts.

"There was actually, when I went back home from that visit, a little moment I thought I still might go somewhere else. I was really thinking about Michigan State, I liked it a lot when I went there," he said. "I thought about it though, and I was like 'this is the offer I fought so hard to get. It's my dream school.'"

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