July 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

OSU signing day: Berger to see dream come true

MEDINA — This year’s Ohio State recruiting class has coined itself “Dream 14” and it comes complete with a website — 2014bucks.com — created by Detroit Cass Tech cornerback and Buckeyes pledge Damon Webb and his family.

It’s a class Medina resident and St. Ignatius outside linebacker Kyle Berger is a part of and one that will become reality this morning when fax machines hum with letters of intent making their way to Columbus.

“It’s going to be a dream come true to say you play for the Ohio State Buckeyes,” Berger said. “Getting a full ride to school and not having to burden your parents to help you pay for college, it’s going to be unbelievable. I can’t even imagine what that’s going to feel like.”

The 6-foot-2, 222-pound Berger had offers from Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, South Florida, Tennessee, UCLA and West Virginia at the time of his decision, but knew on April 8 he wanted to be a Buckeye.

“I think it was that last (Ohio State) spring practice that did it,” Berger said. “The intensity in practice, seeing Coach (Mike) Vrabel chest-bumping guys after making big plays and things like that.

“I love the enthusiasm of the program. They have it all. They have real life Wednesday (a program that teaches players about life after football) and that’s also huge. Coach Urban Meyer and I sat down for an hour and talked about that. That was a deal sealer.”

Since becoming the seventh commitment of the class, Berger, who missed his senior year due to a knee injury, has been instrumental in landing many top recruits around the nation.

Coming into today’s national signing day, Ohio State was ranked in the top six by all the major recruiting services and was as high as second, behind Alabama, according to 247sports.com and Rivals.com. That Berger was a major part of that is something he is quite proud of.

“I just wanted to build a great class around me and make this class as great as we can,” Berger said. “I want to make the team better. Coach Meyer asked me to do it and I said, ‘Of course, whatever I can to help this team.’ I want to be the best I can be, so I want the best around me. I think we’ll be unbelievable when we’re all playing together.

“In talking to other players, we’ve all recruited each other. We’ll be something special. It’s cool already knowing the guys. It’s a huge advantage.”

Ohio State recruit Raekwon McMillan of Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County, who plays inside, is considered the No. 1 linebacker in the country. Berger and McMillan will be joined by Ohio’s Mr. Football, Dante Booker out of St. Vincent-St. Mary, and two-time Division I state champion Sam Hubbard out of Cincinnati Moeller. Booker and Hubbard play outside.

It’s a linebacking corps Berger thinks could be as good as the days of A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel.

“I think the whole of us will be unbelievable,” said Berger, who expects to be close to 100 percent by the time he enrolls in June. “Everyone is already putting in their time.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.