In yet another Q&A for Buckeye Empire this week, I spoke with the 2014 4-star, 6-3 205-pound OLB Kyle Berger out of St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland, OH). According to 247sports.com’s 2014 class analysis, Kyle has a 90 overall rating, is ranked the 22nd outside linebacker in the country, and the 19th best overall player in Ohio. 247sports also lists Kyle as recording 44 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks in his junior season. Aside from the plethora of football-related attention from college coaches, Kyle proved to be a genuinely great guy in our interview and seems destined for success wherever he decides to play in college. Get to know this potential Buckeye and exciting 2014 recruit here:
ZC: How’d your junior season at St. Ignatius go?
KB: It went really well. We reached the State Championship, but unfortunately fell short. I played very well and was blessed enough to make the All-Ohio team.
ZC: What’s your favorite part about playing outside linebacker? Do you ever play any offense for Ignatius?
KB: I like how I can play the run in addition to coverage. It seems like the best of both worlds to me. I also love how I get the chance to blitz on the outside. I practiced a lot at tight end, but we actually had a guy at tight end who’s headed to Boston College, so I wasn’t able to play offense. Next year though, I’ll probably be on both sides of the ball at tight end and outside linebacker.
ZC: You’re projected to play outside linebacker in college. What part of your game do you need to work on the most? What is your biggest strength?
KB: I’d like to work on my strength a lot and get much stronger. Working on my speed and leg strength is also a priority for me. As far as my biggest strength goes, I’d say it’d have to be my instincts. I’m pretty good at reading the play, knowing where to go, and reading the offense’s alignments.
ZC: Let’s get into your recruitment now. What are the main schools recruiting you currently? Which coaching staffs do you have the best relationships with?
KB: Ohio State is definitely recruiting me the most. Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Michigan State are also currently recruiting me. Regarding the coaching staffs in which I have the best relationships with, I’d say Ohio State is definitely up there, as we talk the most. But I also have a great relationship with Coach [Bill] Bedenbaugh, the offensive line coach from West Virginia.
ZC: What do you like about Ohio State?
KB: I love the intensity from the coaching staff. I love the players, the atmosphere with 100,000 plus fans. The atmosphere is my favorite part.
ZC: Recruiting services list Coach Fickell as the coach recruiting you. Is that true, how often do you speak, and who else do you speak with?
KB: Yeah I speak to Coach [Luke] Fickell a lot, especially on Facebook. I also speak to Coach [Mark] Pantoni a bunch, as well as Coach [Urban] Meyer. Coach Pantoni and I talk about 2 times a week, I call Coach Meyer about once a week, and Coach Fickell and I have spoken about 5 or 6 times.
ZC: Are they recruiting you for the typical outside linebacker position? What do you guys talk about?
KB: Yeah, outside linebacker. We mostly talk about my upcoming visit for the Michigan vs. Ohio State basketball game on January 13th. We also talk about school, family, and how basketball is going for me.
ZC: How’s basketball going for you? What position do you play, and what do you like about playing basketball in addition to football in high school?
KB: Basketball is going good, we’re 3-0 so far. We got a late start on the season; our basketball coach always schedules the start of our season later in advance because we have a ton of football guys on the team. I play the 2- or 3-guard position, and I like how it keeps me in shape. It’s gives me a nice break from football, not that I need a break, but playing basketball for a season makes it so football isn’t year-round.
ZC: What have been your best college visits so far?
KB: Well, my only college visit was the Michigan vs. Ohio State game on November 24th. It was nuts, such a cool atmosphere.
ZC: How do you deal with the pressure of the recruiting process and being such a highly touted recruit?
KB: I just try not to think about it. During football season it was easy because I wasn’t getting recruited that heavily, but towards the last 2 weeks of the season I started to. Again, I don’t think about it a lot and my parents are great with keeping me in check.
ZC: Do you speak with any other top recruits in the 2014 class? Do you try to recruit anyone to go play with you in college?
KB: No, not really. I see my teammate [2013 prospect] Jimmy Byrne every day. I talked to him a little and tried to get him going a little bit at the Michigan game, but he ended up committing to Notre Dame.
ZC: Being from Ohio, are you close, or friends with any current Ohio State players?
KB: Yeah Blake Thomas, the tight end. He went to St. Ignatius, and I talk to him a lot.
ZC: I’m assuming you got a chance to watch the Buckeyes this year, right? Which players did you like watching the best?
KB: I loved watching Zach Boren. I thought it was incredible how he played fullback for 3 and a half years then played very well for them at linebacker. Also, I liked watching Ryan Shazier. He always made plays and tackles really well.
ZC: Who’s the best high school player you’ve played against or with?
ZC: I know you visited Ohio State for the Michigan game this year and next year is far in advance, but do you plan on attending any summer camps or Buckeye games next year?
KB: I’ll probably attend at least one of Ohio State’s camps, but I haven’t got a chance to look into next summer and the camp schedule too much. I’ve been pretty busy with school and basketball.
Role Models: Clay Matthews.
Best Subject in School: Math.
Hobbies: I always get home late, so I don’t really do much [laughter]. I’d say Xbox though.
Movies: I just saw it the other day actually, Arbitrage.
TV Shows: I don’t really watch TV [laughter].
Favorite Sports Teams: Definitely the Cleveland Browns.
Thanks to Kyle for a great interview and taking the time to give Buckeye nation a chance to get to know you. Good luck with the recruiting process and your senior season!
For more Ohio State recruiting updates, follow me on Twitter @BuckeyeEmpireZC