The Younger the Berry the Sweeter the Juice

Mike Berry was in competition with senior Leon Hart for the starting job at right guard, and Hart's injured ankle opened the door for Berry to get his first start on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--It's been just over 19 months since Mike Berry has played in a football game--a long time in a rigorous year-around sport without actually taking the action to the field. The right guard from Brentwood, Tenn., Academy came to Auburn in 2006 and almost earned a spot in the rotation before taking a redshirt. In his second year as a Tiger he won the job at right guard and will be in the lineup against Kansas State on Saturday.

"Going through redshirt workouts you don't really get to hit anybody else but your teammates," Berry says. "I'm just glad to get that first hit out of the way. I'm pretty excited and I'm going to start."

At 6-3, 315 pounds, offensive line coach Hugh Nall has worked Berry at center, guard and tackle before finding what appears to be his niche at right guard. Nall was also searching for a right tackle this preaseason, where Lee Ziemba emerged and came out of the race as the winner.

"I know they're going to be gunning for us because we're both young," Berry explains. "I got redshirted last year and Lee's a freshman, so I know they're going to be gunning for us. We're preparing for it.

"So far in practice we're coming together and gelling together," he adds. "As an offensive line it's always good to be on the same basis. I don't think we're a question mark at all. Coach Nall is coaching us hard and getting us ready, so I think we'll be ready."

Berry works against linebacker Brent Slusher, another freshman who could see action on Saturday.

King Dunlap, Tyronne Green and Jason Bosley are the other expected starters up front for the Tigers.

The defensive strength of the Wildcats is at the ends with Ian Campbell and Rob Jackson. Much like Auburn, Kansas State blends in a 3-4 look to the 4-3 base defense, so the duo could attack the Auburn front in similar fashion as Quentin Groves.

"All of them are good, especially when we watch #98 (Campbell) and #95 (Jackson)," Berry says. "The interior guys are also good and we've seen a lot out of them. They're fast and they can get off the ball. You've got to take them serious and you've got to do everything Coach Nall tells you to do. Each day he's working hard and telling us to get off the ball because they're coming. I respect their line a lot.

"I know it's going to be good competition," Berry continues. "I believe #98 is an All-American. I know I've got to bring my A-game."

Campbell and Jackson combined for 26 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 16 sacks last season.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:45 CDT and the game will be televised by ESPN.

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