Austin Berk grew up in Grand Junction where he became a star athlete the past three years at Grand Junction High School. He starred at defensive end for this season's team at 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, despite playing most of the season with an injury.
Early in the year, Berk suffered a hip labral tear that required surgery at the end of the season. He is recovering nicely and doctors have told him he is two weeks ahead of schedule in the four-to-six month recovery process.
When Berk wasn't playing sports on autumn Saturdays as a kid, he often attended University of Colorado football games or watched them on television with his father, Mike Berk, a former CU offensive lineman.
The CU record books show Mike Berk played guard for one season in Boulder in 1981 in the final season of former coach Chuck Fairbanks' tenure. He actually played tackle. Now his son is hoping for a scholarship offer from CU coaches.
"That's my dream school," Austin Berk said. "If they offered me, I would probably take it."
Berk attended several CU football games this season and made an unofficial trip to Boulder as well. He is a familiar face to CU coaches and one they are keeping an eye on as the 2012 recruiting cycle winds down and the 2013 class gears up for its year in the limelight.
Several weeks ago, PrepColorado.com named Berk one of its early top-10, in-state prospects for 2013.
"We went to two games this year and I got to know the coaches pretty good," Berk said. "They seem to be expressing some interest. I'm not really too sure at this point, but I'm hoping for maybe getting a chance to play there."
Berk said he has heard from several other programs but doesn't hold any offers yet. He said college coaches might be concerned about his injury and waiting to see how he recovers before offering him.
"When I went up there for an unofficial visit, they seemed pretty excited," Berk said of the CU staff. "I think they were all shocked by how big I am. I'm kind of deceiving. I'm really tall, but I'm fast. So it helps me out.
I feel like I have an opportunity of getting an offer there. I think probably the main reason they haven't is because I was having surgery and they weren't sure about it."
Berk said he played defensive end and tight end for Grand Junction. He said most coaches he has talked to view him as a defensive prospect. He said the CU staff hasn't been specific about where it sees him playing at the college level.
He is on schedule to graduate early in December of 2012, making him an early enrollee possibility for whatever school he chooses. Berk said he hopes to be able to start college a semester early and get spring ball under his belt before his true freshman season.
Berk said he plans to attend a summer camp at CU this year, but the bulk of his offseason football activities will be with his team at 7on7 tournaments and team camps. Grand Junction is scheduled to go to the Boise State team camp this summer.
Berk isn't the only player on his team likely to receive plenty attention from college coaches in the next year. Fellow lineman James Diamante, a 6-4, 285-pound prospect, also should get opportunities to play in college. Diamante could be either an offensive or defensive lineman.