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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Basketball: A double bonus for football

By Brad Bournival

Contrary to popular belief, football players aren’t always dreaming of the pigskin.

They like the roundball as well. In fact, some credit basketball for making them the football player they are today.

Kyle Trout
Basketball has been a perfect medium for Ohio State OT commit Kyle Trout to show off his athleticism to college recruiters.
In a tale of two Kyles -- Kyle Trout and Kyle Berger -- both say basketball isn’t just something to do in the offseason, it’s a way to escape from the constant that football and recruiting have become.

As strange as it sounds, the 6-foot-5, 234-pound Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), who averaged six points and 10 rebounds this season, credits basketball with making him a Buckeye.

Offensive line coach Ed Warinner attended the power forward/center’s game against Pickerington Central and was blown away.

“Ultimately, basketball is what got me the offer from Ohio State, which led to my commitment,” Trout said. “We lost that game by 14, but I had a lot of playing time and made some really athletic plays, and he said when he left he was so impressed.

“He was sure I was the most athletic lineman in Ohio. He’s never seen a guy my size move the way I do. I think he didn’t realize how well I could move until he saw me on a basketball court.”

Berger, a 6-3, 205-pound swingman who averaged 11 points, six rebounds and three assists this season, sees the game as more of an escape.

He’s 100 percent committed to football, but the linebacker wasn’t going to pass up a chance to play for a very strong Cleveland St. Ignatius basketball team this season.

“I love basketball,” Berger said. “It’s fun to me. It helps keep me in shape. Football is a long way away once it ends, so it helps keep me going until the summer for camps. If you play just the one, it can tire you out. It’s good to focus on something else.

“One sport can get long at times, it’ll wear you out. At the next level in college, football is a full-time job. I want to be able to look back and say, ‘Yeah, I’m glad I played basketball. I enjoyed it.’ It’s a nice break from football. It’s fun, but it’s a long season so it’s nice to have a break and focus on something else. It definitely helps with speed, conditioning and my quick steps.”

Therein is the real reason both play basketball. While it’s an escape from the everyday life of football, there’s much more to the game.

“It helps with stabilizing and strengthening your elbows and your knees and loosening up the hips,” Trout said. “It does wonders. That’s one thing Division I programs really like. It’s having a loose athletic lineman. It’s a misconception where it’s like, ‘I have to get really big or people won’t recruit me.’ I’m not the strongest kid in 2014, but I’m one of the more athletic linemen.

“Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti even said, ‘I don’t want you gaining anymore weight in high school.’ What they want you to do is get really flexible. They can put the weight on when I get to Ohio State.”

Trout believes in the multi-sport athlete philosophy so much that he’s a standout thrower on the track team as well.

He knows his meal ticket is on the gridiron, but he has a message for those thinking about making football the sole focus of their high school career.

“Every sport ties into another sport,” he said. “While you might not become the strongest kid, you can still lift and get strong. Your skills may be a little rusty, but athleticism helps you pick up the skill sets. The tradeoffs are way more beneficial.

“I would definitely tell anyone considering quitting a sport to still play. I was told by Wisconsin, Oregon and Florida State if I were to quit playing basketball that would be the end of my recruitment with them. You’re talking Wisconsin, which is one of the best offensive line schools in the nation, and I was considering quitting, too. I didn’t give it up and that’s what got me where I am.”