August 6, 2009
Berry focusing solely on football
COLUMBUS - It all changed for Jaamal Berry in June after the freshman-to-be was busted with marijuana possession in his hometown in Florida. With the snap of the fingers, Berry went from being one of the more promising recruits to already one filled with negative question marks.
But looking back it Wednesday, a part of Berry is happy he made the mistake when he did, because this way the freshman learned his lesson and is ready to move forward and concentrate solely on football.
"Actually it probably was good in a way because it made me stop fooling around and I cut out all the playing games. Now that I am in college, it was a wake up call," Berry said Wednesday. "I will just pick and choose my friends wisely and the people I hang around and just make smarter decisions."
Berry admitted it was a very stressful time for him, especially because he was just ready to embark on his future at Ohio State. While Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel certainly doesn't like to hear news like Berry's, he did take the "encouraging" approach when speaking with the freshman.
At Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week, Tressel said that Berry won't be punished any further for his arrest in Florida.
"He was just like, 'People make mistakes and you need to overcome those mistakes and everything because you are probably going to hear about it, so I need to be a bigger man and walk away from it,'" Berry said of Tressel's conversation with him.
Given the magnitude of the situation, Berry said his team, friends, and family supported him during the tough time following his mistake. It was that support that made it easier for Berry to overcome the mistake and continue to pursue football at Ohio State.
"It wasn't hard because the whole team, the coaching staff, my mom and my family was all behind with it. It was just like a mistake and I am going to move on from it and don't let it happen again," Berry said. "I learned my lesson and I can't be hanging around the wrong crowd. I am just moving forward now and I haven't heard anything about it since."
The last thing Berry wanted when it came to getting to Ohio State was for everything regarding him to be focused on what he had done over the summer. Berry was relieved to say that he has learned his lesson and focused solely on making a difference in the Buckeye backfield in the fall.
"It is a big burden off my shoulders because now it is just football and I don't have to worry about being in trouble or the whole situation that happened," Berry said. "It is over now and it's in my past. Hopefully my future is brighter."
After losing Chris Wells to the NFL after last season, the Buckeye backfield is still in the midst of trying to find some answers when it comes to the run game. Though those answers seem to point to Daniel Herron and Brandon Saine, there could be more room for Berry to get in and contribute early.
Even with competition at tailback with Jermil Martin, Berry figures to be a main part of the rotation in 2009. After all, if one of the top two backs going down with an injury, the Buckeyes may need Berry's services pretty bad.
With that, Berry is continuing to prepare with the squad and is looking forward to fall camp, which starts on Sunday.
"I feel so great about everything because I feel I can make an impact as a freshman at the college level," Berry said. "Camp starts Sunday, so I am just looking forward to turning heads at camp and hopefully that will roll over to the games."
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