A New Beginning

Brock Berlin is having no trouble sleeping at night, keeping down food or adjusting to the South Florida climate. It's quite the contrary: Berlin has added a few pounds, developed a liking for the golf courses and worked on his always present suntan by making good use of South Beach as often as possible- all squeezed in while keeping his books in order and getting ready to begin a new era behind center at the University of Miami.

"I have no complaints," says Berlin. "It's been a pretty smooth transition and I just can't wait to get started."

But Steve Spurrier's former pupil will have plenty of company - at least from the start.

Berlin, who transferred from the University of Florida several weeks after the conclusion of the 2001 college football season and was forced to sit out last season as required by the NCAA, is the frontrunner to replace the departed Ken Dorsey as the Hurricanes starting quarterback when Miami kicks off spring practice next month.

As is always the case with a high-profile position changing hands in Coral Gables Berlin will be closely monitored by coaches, fans and media alike as he attempts to take the reins at quarterback and make Dorsey a distant memory. But by all accounts it won't be a walk in the park.

For one Dorsey passed his way through the UM record books while only losing two games at the school, one being the last of his career. Stepping in for one of the great quarterbacks ever at Miami will also make Berlin the featured attraction on the field - if he isn't already. And coming from Gainesville – not exactly a favorite spot for UM followers - will only make the spotlight shine brighter.

So much so that despite strong speculation that Berlin has already been made the odds on favorite to be the Hurricanes QB, coach Larry Coker has attempted in vain to alleviate the added pressure that awaits Berlin during the spring by indicating repeatedly that the that the job is still there for the taking. Coker even added recently that all the quarterbacks on the roster including junior Derrick Crudup, sophomore Marc Guillon and incoming freshman Kyle Wright would be given equal opportunity to win the position.

But although no member of the coaching staff would publicly endorse Berlin as the team's next starting quarterback many believe it would take a monumental spring from his competitors and a not-so-good-one from Berlin to keep him from being named the starter.

Berlin won't say anything about his current status. Still after being relegated to practices, film sessions and endless weight training sessions, he isn't exactly preparing to serve in a back-up role. Additionally Berlin has admitted in the past that he opted to come to Miami because he would have two years of eligibility remaining even after sitting out last season aside from an opportunity to win a national championship.

"After sitting out for so long I'm ready to go. It was a learning experience (getting to watch Dorsey),"Berlin says. "It was a frustrating experience but at the same time I got to learn a lot from the guys here."

But Berlin doesn't have to wait anymore.

Berlin played 12 games over the span of the 2000 and 2001 seasons, throwing for 653 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions while completing 60.9 percent of his passes at Florida. After losing out to Rex Grossman in a close battle for the starting quarterback slot, he played in eight games as a sophomore including the 2002 FedEx Orange Bowl. Berlin was 11-of-19 passing with 196 yards in the victory over Maryland but transferred and several weeks later Spurrier accepted an offer to become coach of the Washington Redskins.

To this day Berlin doesn't go into many details about his relationship with Spurrier. But he had said in the past that he enjoyed his time in Gainesville and doesn't regret the decision to go there initially.

"I have no regrets that's all I'll say," said Berlin.

With that in the past, Berlin only wants to focus on the future. Berlin has already started participating in off-campus drills with several teammates aside from working out four times a week.

"I hate losing and last season left a sour taste in my mouth," says Berlin about Miami's 34-27 defeat at the hands of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. "I want to win."

And after what Dennis Dunn saw of Berlin during an unblemished high school career that consisted of 45 straight wins as a starter at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, La. it won't take long for the 6-1 and 212-pounder to win over the masses at UM according to the long time coach.

"He's a fierce competitor with an unmatched desire to win and whenever he's sets a goal you better believe it's going to get done," says Dunn. "I know there is going to a lot of competition down there but I would be shocked if Brock Berlin isn't the starting quarterback at the University of Miami. There is nothing not to like about this kid. The fans in Miami are going to fall in love with this kid."

Like Berlin himself, Dunn believes that sitting out a year and being able to absorb everything going on around him will actually help him down the line.

"I think he'll be fine. Brock has had time to learn the system as part of the scout team so he won't be behind," Dunn said.

Berlin has a history of finishing on top.

Dunn recalls his team wasn't getting the usual reception during Berlin's freshman year on the squad. But that quickly changed as Berlin led Evangel Christian Academy to a 15-0 record and a state championship game victory in the Super Dome. He wasn't done.

"After that game Brock comes over and says, ‘you know what, coach? We're going to be the first class to go 60-0 in the school's history," said Dunn. "I thought the kid was crazy."

But apparently Berlin knew what he was talking about. Evangel Christian would run off another 45 consecutive victories and two more state titles with Berlin at the controls.

"I can't think of anything that young man can't do."

Scratch playing golf of the list.

Berlin, an avid golfer who was on the boy's team at Evangel Christian Academy, has taken his competitive juices on the links at the Biltmore Golf Course where he has repeatedly impressed the instructional staff with his ability. Considered a long-swinger, Berlin regularly shots in the high 70's or low 80's.

"He's an incredible competitor. I mean the kid just hates to lose," says Biltmore assistant golf professional Sebastian Camillo. "I would say he's better than 90 percent of the celebrity golfers that come out here."

Berlin, who plays golf at least once a week during the off-season, has developed a friendly rivalry with UM assistants Mark Stoops and Dan Werner. And most of the time Berlin doesn't care that Werner (Berlin's position coach at UM) is on the premises.

"He wants to win no matter who it is," says Camillo.

Not good news for the rest of the Hurricanes' hopefuls at quarterback.

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