- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Penn State recently surprised 2014 linebacker Kyle Berger (Cleveland, Ohio/Saint Ignatius) by offering him a scholarship Tuesday morning. NittanyNation recently caught up with Berger to ask him about his recruitment and the Nittany Lions.
NittanyNation: How did you find out about your Penn State offer? Can you set the scene for me?
Kyle Berger: I walked into the lunch room, and my coach was standing in the back corner. I usually eat lunch there with my friends, and I knew he was there for me because he had this funny look on his face. He just came up to me ... and he's talking to me, and in the middle of our conversation, he pulls out, 'Oh, Penn State called me and offered you.' And then he just picked up right where he left off in the conversation.
I was completely surprised. I had a friend request from one of the coaches on Facebook, and I never talked to Penn State before, so I was extremely surprised. Later, I went to the coach's office, and he told me a Penn State guy will be coming in the next week or two.
NN: What made you excited about the offer, and is that among the places you want to visit now?
KB: Oh yeah, I was real excited, especially knowing Penn State's always had a great tradition at linebacker over decades. It's cool knowing that, at that type of school, I could play linebacker. I was real excited.
And I would definitely like to visit Michigan and possibly Penn State -- that's a good Big Ten school and that's close. So that's pretty reasonable, and I'm also thinking of Stanford if I get an offer there.
NN: You're from Ohio -- and you have an offer from Ohio State. So, everybody basically assumes you'll eventually commit to the Buckeyes. What would you say to that?
KB: Right now, it's kind of tough to say who's in the lead. Ohio State is my only visit I've taken so far. I want to get up and visit other places, possibly Penn State since I have an offer. Probably, right now, Ohio State is in the lead because I haven't seen other schools that I could compare it to. But that could change; I'm not too set on my schools right now.
NN: You want to commit by April. Why April, and why so early?
KB: I'm just hoping to get it off my back for my senior year. I don't want to be worrying about my senior season, about playing bad or having my scholarship taken away. I don't want the burden on me if I get injured or something like that, and I'd like the burden off me all summer so I can work hard and help my team to a state championship.
NN: What are your priorities in a school?
KB: Without a doubt, academics first. My parents have always forced me -- well, not forced me -- but I'm told to focus a lot on my grades. Football's not going to be there forever, and I still get in trouble for Bs. And I want to be a doctor, so I'm looking at medical schools and academic teams. Also, the tradition of the football program and the atmosphere for a school, and I definitely want the closeness to home.
NN: I see you had 39 tackles for loss last season. How on earth does that come about; how often do you blitz?
KB: They definitely blitz me a lot this year, probably two times every series of downs I probably blitz. My coaches really like my speed on the outside, and I can beat the tackles pretty easily because I have more athleticism, so I do that a lot.
NN: Well, it seems like your speed is definitely a strength. But can you break down your other strengths and weaknesses for me?
KB: Definitely. I think what I need to improve on is my strength. I could get a lot bigger and stronger, and I'm a little undersized at the linebacker position by weight. So I would like to add some weight and get more muscle. Sometimes, I would screw up whether it's a run or pass and what the lineman's doing. Part of the reason is my first couple steps. You take one step forward every play, and sometimes I take one back. I kind of naturally did that when I should be running forward. My linebackers coach pointed it out to me, and that's one thing I worked on all season. I'm getting better at it.
My biggest strength is my speed and athleticism and my instincts to the ball. When a guy's going upfield, I know what angle to take and I don't question it.
2dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy