Wednesday, September 11, 2013
ESPN 300 LB Berger ready for next step
By Brad Bournival
Ohio State linebacker commit Kyle Berger's senior season ended before the regular season even began because of a knee injury.
On Thursday, ESPN 300 linebacker Kyle Berger will sew up what remains of his senior season at Cleveland St. Ignatius when he has surgery to repair a badly damaged left knee.
And the Ohio State commitment considers himself lucky. Lucky because things could have been much worse, lucky because he sees the light at the end of the tunnel and lucky because he’s got a tremendous support system behind him.
Things didn’t look that way three-and-a-half weeks ago when he was taken off the field after assisting on a tackle.
He tore his anterior cruciate ligament and found out this Tuesday he had partial tears in his MCL and meniscus. And it should be noted that the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Berger feared a much worse outcome.
“It’s pretty weird to think, ‘What if I took just one different step that one time?’ ” Berger said. “It’s wrapping your mind around it.
“You take a step you’ve taken a million times your whole life, that one step and it’s just that one time where it just tore it all. That was bad. It was one of the toughest days that I can remember.”
It's an ironic twist that the injury came in a scrimmage on a tackle of 2015 Buckeyes pledge Eric Glover-Williams (Canton, Ohio/McKinley) and it happened despite the fact he didn’t even get hit on the play.
The ACL prognosis couldn't be made for three days following the injury because the knee was so swollen.
“I had an idea, but there’s that bit of hope where maybe they’re wrong; maybe it’s something else,” Berger said. “It was heartbreaking, but I got over it quickly.
“I go to the weight room now. I started lifting that Sunday, mostly upper body. I ride a stationary bike 10 miles a day to get the fluids out and get the range of motion back. That’s how I channel things.”
He channels it in other ways as well and that could be seen last week during St. Ignatius’ 26-6 win over Mentor, a team that knocked the Wildcats out of the playoffs last season.
While it bothers him that he’s not on the field with his fellow teammates, he’s taken to the part of being an extension of the team.
Dameon Willis, John Gibbons, Geoff DiMassa, Pat Hopkins, Jake Maruna and Nick Malarik are making do at linebacker without Berger.
When they have questions, Berger isn’t afraid to lend a hand.
“I help them with things I see,” Berger said. “Things they wouldn’t necessarily see on the field. I’m almost like another coach.
“It’s tough to go to practice. I don’t stick around the whole time, so it’s hard to know some of the defensive changes. I look at the other team’s offense and what they’re doing. I think it’s easier to relate to these guys. Some coaches don’t know what we’re actually capable of. As players, we know the things that are out of reach or the things that can’t be done by a high school kid. It’s easier to relate to your friends.”
As for that next step, Berger is ready for a long rehabilitation -- he’s been told it could take as much as eight months to get back to 100 percent. He’s going to hit rehab the way he used to take down the opposition, with an attitude that makes him so easy to root for.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten over it yet, but I’m glad to be here,” Berger said. “It is tough to watch from the sidelines, but I know I have a lot of big games ahead of me in the future.”