The 16th installment of this year's Better Know a Buckeye series will profile a recruit barely recruited by Ohio State but with intriguing potential. Ohio State knew of Berry well before his junior season. Mike Vrabel, defensive line coach and his primary recruiter at the time, wanted Berry to know they would be watching him more carefully. However, over 15 months transpired before Ohio State recruited Berry again. He was offered on Oct. 21 of last year and committed the next day.
- Size: 6-5/240
- Position: WDE (or TE)
- School: Lorain Digital (Lorain, OH)
- 247 Composite: ★★★
- National Ranking: 726
- Position Ranking: 35 (WDE)
- State Ranking: 32
I retell Berry's winding road from Lorain Digital to Ohio State, building on other profiles of Berry published at Eleven Warriors and listed below. After recapping his commitment, I offer a scouting report of a prospect who recruiting services think is a weakside defensive end but who aspires to be a tight end. I offer a projection of a redshirt in 2015 before concluding with highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the feature.
Eleven Warriors had been following Ohio State's recruitment of Berry from the beginning. It starts in the summer of 2013 after Berry participated in a one-day position camp in Columbus. He emerged from that camp as one of the more intriguing prospects in attendance. Happy with his conversations with Urban Meyer and then-defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, Berry thought he may have a future in Columbus.
More Rashod Berry at 11W
A full year and more transpired before Berry was recruited by Ohio State again late last October. There were two issues that appear to explain this, both of which are recurring features in the recruiting trail for Ohio State and other big programs. Importantly, Ohio State coaches appeared to have some misgivings about where Berry was academically. If he wanted a scholarship offer from Ohio State, he needed to demonstrate more off the field than what he had demonstrated on the field and in camps.
Second, he had become unproductive on the field as well. Berry's Lorain Digital program had significant attrition at the coaching position, which partly explains this. More to the point, a frank conversation with his high school coach came with some unpleasant feedback. When he asked why he was not receiving attention from programs like Ohio State or Florida State, Berry's high school coach at the time informed him that he was not making plays to the degree that those prestigious programs require. He had little on film for his junior year to demonstrate measurable improvement from his sophomore year. Per Berry's own admission, his junior year was something of a "waste".
This is not to say Berry had not done well for himself on the recruiting trail. He had MAC offers (Akron, Bowling Green, Kent State, and Toledo) after his sophomore season. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan State offered as well. If pressed for a prediction, Michigan State may have been the likely destination last summer. However, Berry wanted more.
Berry received a reality check from those close to him about where he stood vis-a-vis Ohio State, but he deserves credit for taking corrective measures. He sought help in the classroom in order to improve his academic profile. He had also committed himself to starting off his senior season well. By October, Ohio State was in contact again. He was on hand for Ohio State's 56-17 rout of Rutgers.
Three days later, Ohio State extended a scholarship offer. Berry was eager to accept.
One day after receiving his scholarship offer, Berry informed Ohio State's coaches that he accepted it. The sudden turn of events signaled that Berry was going to academically qualify for admission to The Ohio State University and that Berry had impressed the coaches of late in practice and in his games to date.
WHERE HE EXCELS
Rashod Berry is a tricky prospect to evaluate. Recruiting services are bearish on his potential. By Berry's own admission, nothing he demonstrated as a junior gave them reason to evaluate him much higher than they did.
Further, Berry thinks of himself as a tight end prospect. By outward appearances, Ohio State's coaches agree and listed him as a tight end on National Signing Day. My hunch is the recruiting services probably have this right and that Berry is a future defensive end prospect. The evaluation that follows will treat him as such.
This is not to say that Berry does not have intriguing potential as a tight end similar to to the evaluation I gave a few weeks ago of Aramis Alexander. Berry is one of the more athletic prospects in Ohio State's recruiting class. He may not have the length/height that a basketball program requires for his size, but his high school basketball mixtape underscores how interesting of a prospect Berry could be on offense. He turned heads at tight end arguably more than defensive end during that one-day position camp in June 2013.
Beyond sheer athleticism, Berry is a "long" 6-5. As a defensive end prospect, he would thrive in setting the edge and containing plays between the tackles.
MUST WORK ON
Berry is listed at 6-5 and 240 pounds, but he is not particularly powerful. Right now, Berry is a not a versatile rusher. He's better against the run than against the pass, which is typical for any graduating prospect. However, he has little in the way of refined techniques for getting off blocks. His bull rush right now is not that impressive and that is largely his only tool in the kit.
This should not be considered debilitating, per se. Berry is a high-motor defensive end and used that to his advantage in high school. Technique becomes a premium in college, though. Berry should consume all knowledge that Larry Johnson imparts on him.
I think Rashod Berry is a likely redshirt in 2015. This may also afford him the chance to demonstrate that he may actually be a better tight end after all.
To my knowledge, the most recent available highlight film of Berry is from his ill-fated junior year.
Here is his senior-year basketball film for your consideration/enjoyment as well.