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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The next step for Berger and the Buckeyes

By Brad Bournival

One freak play has Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius) itching to get back on the field this season.

That the chance of that happening is very slim is hard to take for the Ohio State pledge and his high school coach, Chuck Kyle.

Berger confirmed a tear of the ACL in his left knee on Tuesday. Kyle added that it’s one of the toughest things to comprehend for both he and the standout ESPN 300 outside linebacker.

“He had a chance to be the defensive player of the year in the state of Ohio,” Kyle said. “I don’t care what program you are, that’s difficult to deal with. Our focus is to help Kyle get over this and he will.

“The kid wanted to play with his senior friends, so how can he use it to move forward? To be a senior in high school and take that away, that’s hard to find a silver lining. He was a kid still and he loved what he was doing.”

St. Ignatius athletic director Rory Fitzpatrick said on the school’s website that it appears Berger’s season is through, the initial review backs that up.

“They’ll do the operation in a few weeks,” Kyle said. “He was a football player and a very good basketball player. The doctor is 95 percent sure it’s torn and the guy knows what he’s doing. That’s pretty clear.”

There is no silver lining in this, but if there is a positive it is that the injury happened before the high school season started. While Berger might not play another snap for the Wildcats, he’ll have a bunch of time to rest up, rehabilitate the knee and get back to the game he loves.

One of the fiercest competitors on the field and nicest off it, Berger’s drive and determination will shine through once again, as it did on the field with St. Ignatius.

His 90 tackles -- 39 for loss -- and 8.5 sacks last season showed that the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Berger was arguably the best defender on a team loaded with Division I talent last season.

“He’ll have to rehab and understand injuries can happen in a split second,” Kyle said. “He was in a situation where he was just making a tackle against Canton McKinley, he didn’t even get hit. For some reason, the knee popped.

“It brings the reality to a kid that you never know what will happen in an instant. We’re going to help him get through that. He wouldn’t tell you the rehab is a motivating factor. Right now, it’s a great disappointment. He’s not a machine. He’s not a guy on a contract. He’s a kid that wanted to play high school football. He’ll have time to recover.”

That is good news for Berger and the Buckeyes, who are young at linebacker to say the least, as Ohio State doesn’t have a single senior on its two-deep chart at the position.

With freshmen Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson and Christopher Worley on the outside and the additions of ESPN 300 linebacker Dante Booker Jr. and Sam Hubbard to this year’s class, the time is there if Berger needs it to rehab.

But knowing Berger, time might not be needed, as the senior is always ready for the next challenge.