For the Coeur D’Alene 2015 linebacker, the upcoming National Signing Day will be nothing more than making official what he decided long ago. His mind’s been made up for months. Now it’s time to get to work.
“I’m really excited,” said Drew Berger, who will graduate in the spring and report in the fall. “I can’t wait to get down there and bond with the team. I’m ready to finish up school and get to work. I’m really excited.”
He stood out during the Semper Fi week in Southern %%MATCH_4%%, flashing in the practices and building some buzz. The game was more of the same for Berger (6’1, 220), who diagnosed plays quickly and used his strong instincts to be a part of many plays.
“Going into it, I didn’t have any main goals,” Berger said, “but I wanted to see how I compared to some of the best players in the country. Coming out of it, I think it was a little strange getting used to splitting reps with guys, but I thought I did pretty well in the game and I really enjoyed it. It was great to be able to spend a week with that level of competition and coaching.”
Despite having declared months ago, the performance spurred some interest and contact from some other schools.
“There’s been some interest from other schools after the Semper Fi game, but for the most part teams have stayed away,” he said. “Washington State was talking to me a little bit. Mostly it’s been coaches congratulating me on my performance, letting me know they saw me do well.”
While Berger hasn’t been given any guarantees about playing time, he also hasn’t been told he’ll be redshirted right away, either. He sees the benefits to that and playing right away, so either way things shake out will be fine by him.
“Last time I mentioned it to him, he said it’d be up to me to determine with how I play,” Berger said of his talks with linebackers coach Andy Avalos. Berger will be playing strong side linebacker. “Obviously, I want to get on the field as soon as possible, but there are some advantages to redshirting too so I’m not too worried about it.”
That doesn’t mean he isn’t working hard for it, though. Berger has been putting in the time during the offseason to get bigger, faster and stronger. He’s been working with a personal trainer doing football-specific lifts and drills. Even though he hasn’t kept track of his lifting numbers, he feels stronger and thinks his lateral movement has already improved. “I don’t think I’ll have to gain too much more weight,” he said. “Some will probably come just from their lifting program, but nothing too bad.”
Berger’s time in Boise will be a family affair. His older brother, tight end Chase Blakely, redshirted last season last season for the Broncos and is looking to make a name for himself in the spring. Berger stayed with his brother during each of his visits but won’t get that chance, at least in his freshman season.
“I haven’t really worked that out yet,” he said, “but I for sure have to stay in the dorms when I first get there and Chase will be living in off-campus apartments, so we’ll see after a while. But not at first.”
In his senior season, Berger was the second-leading tackler for the Vikings with 93 and had 3 sacks and 3 interceptions apiece. He also led the team with 549 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns, helping Coeur D’Alene reach the second round of the Division 5A IHSAA playoffs.