Stephen Berg - Tucson's Finest Ends Up In Tempe

The ASU-Arizona rivalry is easily one of the fiercest in college Football. Bragging rights are always at a premium between these two universities. Thus, Sun Devil fans flashed a wide smile across their faces when Stephen Berg, arguably the best high school Football player in Tucson last year, signed a letter of intent to play in Tempe. Naturally, the offensive lineman took a fair share of hostility leaving University of Arizona's hometown, to play for its hated archrival.

"I did catch a lot of flak for going to ASU." Says the SuperPrep preseason and postseason all-American. "When I was introduced to people as the guy going to ASU, they would say – you traitor! They weren't joking about it…they were pretty serious. A lot of kids in my high school went to U of A, and were pressuring me to go there too. But people that weren't into U of A, knew that going to ASU was best for me, so they supported my decision." It was never a matter of disliking U of A, but rather a personal preference to live in the Phoenix area. "I like Phoenix a lot. I played there my freshman and sophomore year (at Arizona Lutheran Academy). I just wanted to get out of town. It's not that I hated U of A, but I just didn't want to live in Tucson. I just wanted a change."

The first-team all-Arizona selection was recruited by most of the Pac-10 schools. Aside from visiting ASU he visited U of A, Oregon State, and UCLA. The recruiting tactics at Arizona had a predictable tone to them. "U of A just kept saying that I'm the best player in Tucson, and I should stay home." Recalls the incoming ASU freshman. "They really emphasized that during the recruiting process. I don't know if the coaches there were joking or not, but they said that they would fire my dad (who works for University of Arizona) if I didn't go to U of A. I guess they were joking because my dad is still working there." And how will his family react when the two schools meet each November? "My family is gonna be torn when we play U of A. But my dad has always supported me, and he'll root for me when we play U of A."

ASU's recruiting tactics were a sharp contrast to the ones employed by its in-state foe. "They never pressured me like the other coaches." Says Berg who was listed as the 20th-best offensive lineman in the nation by SuperPrep. "I just liked the ASU coaches more than all the other coaches I talked to. The first meeting with coach Fidler went real well. They said from the get go they were real interested, and I just liked ASU from day one… Coach Snyder recruited me before that, and I had a good experience with his coaching staff too. I'm used to coaching staff changes, so it didn't matter to me when Snyder wasn't at ASU anymore." Not surprisingly, a pleasant recruiting process continued with an official visit to the Tempe campus. "The visit went real well. I got to see the campus in depth. Drew Hodgon was my host, and we had a good time hanging out. I got along great with all the players… When I saw the weight room I was just amazed. I have had a lot of fun working out there this summer...Meeting with the academic staff went real well. You could tell they were down to earth, and had a lot to offer. I liked the sports medicine program at ASU."

Berg, who's vertical jump is an impressive 30 inches, lists his strengths as run blocking. "I ran a 5.0 in the 40, so I like to pull when I run block. I get off the ball pretty quick for my size. I do still need to work more on my pass blocking." The Canyon del Oro standout also played defensive tackle for the last two years. However, he knows that his talents will be better utilized on the other side of the ball. "It's not up to me where to play, but I did like playing defense a lot. I think my skills are better suited for the offensive line, and I just performed better there." Berg arrived in the valley about a month and a half ago, and has enjoyed an easy transition. "I know so many people here. I guess you could call it my second home here." As mentioned, he does enjoy the state of the art weight room facility, and credits his muscle gain to the summer off-season workouts.

With several offensive lineman recruited in his class, along with the relative youth of this position, the battle for playing time will be a intense one to say the least. Berg is up for the challenge. "With all the lineman recruited, I know I have my work cut out for me. When we go through camp I can then really tell how much better everybody else is. Coming to a young offensive line gives you more opportunity. It'd be a whole lot different in that aspect if I came to a veteran offensive line. It doesn't matter to me that we don't have a lot veterans to learn from. If you're good enough to play D1 Football, then you're a good player to learn from… I'll take whatever the coaches give me. If I redshirt that's perfectly OK with me…I'm excited and nervous for my first season. But I just say just bring it on (smile)!"

Depending on which side of the I-10 you reside on, Stephen Berg will be viewed as a feather in ASU's recruiting cap or an aggravating lost recruit for U of A. Nevertheless, if Berg is simply remembered as another stellar ASU offensive lineman in recent years, Sun Devils fans will be more than happy with that legacy. The fact that he's from Tucson will just act as icing on the cake.

Recruit Profile


Stephen Berg

High School

Canyon del Oro, Tucson, AZ


OT (Played DT too)





Date of Birth



Tucson, AZ



Favorite TV Show


Favorite Movie

John Q

Favorite Singer

Rage Against The Machine

Favorite Food


Favorite Drink


Favorite Athlete

John Randall

Favorite Pro Team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Person you most admire

My dad. He's been through a lot, and he has handled it well.

First Football Memory

Freshman year in high school. I tore my MCL. I was able to handle it well, and come back to play. I don't know if it's my best memory, but it's the first one. (smile)

One Thing most people don't know about me

I like to ride four wheelers in the sand dunes as much as possible.

Why did you choose ASU?

The coaching staff. I got along real well with them.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

I want to play in the NFL. I'm not sure if that's gonna work out or not. If it doesn't, I want to have my own practice as a physical therapist.

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