Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scouting Report: Kyle Berger

Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius linebacker Kyle Berger
Name: Kyle Berger
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius
Position: Linebacker
Class: 2014

Notes: Holds offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, and West Virginia . . . As a junior in 2012, had 44 tackles for loss and 10 sacks . . . Rivals 4-star OLB, #204 overall . . . 247 Sports 4-star OLB, 90 grade, #22 OLB . . . Attends alma mater of Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan and former Michigan players Pat and Mike Massey, among others

Strengths: Good speed for a kid his size . . . Quickness is impressive, but straight line speed is even more so . . . Has good length . . . Plenty of room to fill out to 240 lbs. or so . . . Uses hands well to shed blockers . . . Very disciplined player . . . Stays home and doesn't overpursue . . . Stays very balanced in pass rush and pursuit

Weaknesses: Has a tendency to false step . . . Needs to play more on balls of feet . . . Could work on hand placement and getting hands on inside of blocker's frame rather than outside . . . Would ideally need a year or two to fill out physically . . . Can get outmuscled in the run game

Projection: Outside linebacker.  Berger is too long and lean to play inside, but he looks like an ideal fit at outside linebacker in a 4-3 Under defense.  He has good pass rushing skills and would be a disciplined run stopper.  He's not the most explosive athlete, but he has good speed and plays with tenacity.  I like his demeanor on the field.  If he gets too big or is needed at weakside end, he could eventually play there, too.  He looks like a high level BCS player.

Reminds me of: Jake Ryan. I know it's kind of an obvious pick, but the frame and playing style are very similar.

Here are Berger's highlights on Hudl.


  1. Re: the comparison to Ryan- I assume that coaches feel the same way.

  2. God forbid Haden Frye ever get a peek of the pink jerseys. He'd die laughing. Although at his age, not a bad way to go.

  3. Didn't this kid have like 44 TFLs last year? Maybe that's a system thing, but it's still insane.

  4. Seems like a fine prospect and the coaches are going after him, but his offer list doesn't reflect being an elite recruit or impact athlete. I don't see him as a key recruit for Michigan. Without an obvious heir to Ryan, there's a perception of a need to fill the SAM spot, but I think the glut of strong safety types and ILB types will result in several players ending up at SAM in the end (I'm thinking of kids like Gant or Clark after they put on weight). There could also be an overflow from the WDE position but it seems more likely those kids grow into SDE, IMO.

    1. I don't see Gant or Clark turning into SAM linebackers. This isn't a system like Rodriguez's where strong safeties can play linebacker and vice versa. The SAM is more of a weakside end than anything, so you'd be asking a guy like Clark (a CB/S prospect) to hold up against the run and play a form of DE. That's a huge transition. And at 6'4", Clark would have to get up to 245 lbs. or so, which is a lot of weight. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's quite a stretch. Gant is just a guy, in my opinion.

      I don't think Berger is a make-or-break prospect (his Rivals ranking seems pretty accurate), but we do need a SAM. There aren't many of the ILB prospects/players who can move to SAM. The best SAM prospect in the pipeline is probably Ferns, but the coaches are ignoring other MIKEs in the 2014 class (like Clifton Garrett) because they feel Ferns is solid there. If you ignore Garrett and then move Ferns to SAM, you've got a void at MIKE. And the coaches told Berger that they want to take a SAM in this class.

    2. Clark is 6'4 late-bloomer that could easily get to 230-235. Light, but not unreasonable. Cam Gordon is at SAM now, perhaps by default, but he went from 210 to 235 and is just 6'2. Ojemudia played WDE at 230 last year.

      Speed can make up for some size deficiencies, as long as you're in the ballpark.

      RE:Ferns at MIKE - they've recruited a ton of kids lately for the position so I don't think it'd be a problem if he moved and there was no '14 MIKE. I suspect that some of the kids that are stuck behind Morgan, Ross, and Bolden right now (and Ferns if you want to project out further) will step up and emerge at SAM (e.g., RJS). Or maybe they'll push one of the incumbents aside if that's a better fit.

      Positions are fluid - we've seen guys move every year and there's no reason to think that's going to stop. Generally speaking, I don't mentally lock underclassmen into positions unless they have very specific physical limitations (e.g., Ross is a near lock for WLB, but it wouldn't be totally crazy if he ended up at MIKE either).

    3. I do agree the coaches want a prototypical SAM, and that landing one would be ideal - I'm just saying I'm not worried about getting Berger to fit a need. I'm probably less worried about our LB situation than any position group. I just want them to keep adding athleticism along the edges.

    4. Gordon was always a thick kid, though, and Yours Truly said from the very beginning of his recruitment that he should end up at linebacker. Ojemudia, too, played weakside end because that's his best position; they're grooming him to take that position over eventually.

      Clark was recruited as a safety. All indications seem to say that he's staying at safety for the foreseeable future. That doesn't mean that he won't move to another position in another couple years, but the coaches aren't going to ignore recruiting the SAM position just because one safety might maybe eventually be big enough to play SAM. And like I said, the coaches have said that they're recruiting a SAM in this class, so it's kind of a moot point.

    5. Gordon was 6'2, 200 as a recruit which is not especially 'thick', certainly relative to his current weight. I think our coaches still would not describe him that way, but if you mean relative to Clark, then sure. I could see Clark falling somewhere between Gordon and Shawn Crable (who was 240-250 but also 6'5 or so - a taller skinnier guy). Can a 6'4 235 lb kid with excellent speed play SAM for Michigan - I think so.

      "the coaches aren't going to ignore recruiting the SAM position just because one safety might maybe eventually be big enough to play SAM". Obviously - I don't expect them to ignore the position but I hope they don't feel the need to take a 3-star Plan B guy just to fit a spot, if Berger ends up elsewhere. It's not about projecting one guy (Clark) is about the glut of LBs and Safeties that their recruiting strategy has left them with. There are 5 spots between LB and Safety and they've recruited at least 10 in the last 2 classes, not counting several 'tall corners' that could easily project to safety.

      I'm not saying Clark WILL definitely move to LB, I'm saying one of these ILBs or Safeties almost surely will. The SAM could be McCray, RJS, Clark, Gant...I don't know. But we have a lot of promising kids and this coaching staff seems to miss less often, so I'm not expecting attrition to solve the logjam. The best players will emerge and the positional needs will sort themselves out, IMO.

      I get that there isn't a prototypical prospect who easily slots in as Ryan's replacement right now but I think positional fluidity (when we see so much of it) should be recognized. I think the coaches see it, even if they don't talk about that on signing day or during recruiting. There's value in identifying a clear vision for a recruit, but the coaches know some kids (e.g., Shallman) are more likely to move than others. Flexibility is valuable and some of our recruits are just good athletes that could work at multiple positions (especially across similar positions like OG/OT or MIKE/WILL).

    6. Crable was an athletic freak and a 5-star caliber prospect - unlike Clark. I'm sure there are other examples of exceptions to the normal body type. The point is you don't necessarily have to be 'thick' to be an effective OLB in Michigan's defense.

    7. Gordon was listed at 6'2", 211 by Rivals and was 208 lbs. on the freshman roster. That's certainly bigger/thicker than the 6'4", 200 lb. Clark.

      Crable was 6'5" and 223 lbs. as a freshman. He had chicken legs but a huge upper body. He was a good 20-25 lbs. bigger than Clark. Again, not saying that Clark can't put on the necessary weight, but I just don't see it happening.

      And like I've said, the coaches want a SAM linebacker. There are other options besides Berger that aren't necessarily wastes of space. Jenkins-Stone is already on campus, and he and the coaches have already decided that he's going to stay in the middle for now, despite the fact that there's a void at the position behind Gordon/Ryan.

  5. Nice write up as usual. I like the bloodline to this H.S.

  6. Is there any chance of landing this kid, or is he a lock for OSU?

    1. The latest info says that Michigan and OSU are neck and neck. It wouldn't surprise me either way.

  7. Have always been a fan. Thanks for sharing!