Berry Talks Injuries, Visits

Although he has been on the sidelines for much of the season, Miami (Fla.) Palmetto running back Jaamal Berry has become the subject of plenty of rumors. In this update with BuckeyeSports.com, Berry discusses the season, his future and that "solid" commitment to Ohio State.

This has not been the senior season Jaamal Berry envisioned.

A five-star running back prospect from Miami (Fla.) Palmetto, Berry had his sights set on improving on a junior season that saw him carry the ball 140 times for 1,033 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, a number of injuries have prevented him from fulfilling his preseason goals and have regulated him to the sidelines for much of the year.

First came a pulled groin in the spring that was a harbinger of things to come. Then came a broken wrist that Berry played with for the first three games before undergoing surgery. After missing a game, he returned to action with a hard cast but then suffered a high ankle sprain on his first carry back in action.

Now, though, with a playoff berth secured and one more regular-season game on the docket, Berry is aiming to return to action this week after missing four games while battling the high ankle sprain. He has already resumed practicing this week.

"I'm getting better and closer to 100 percent," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "I guess it has just been bad luck for me this year. I just started running earlier this week on Monday and things are looking good. We've clinched the playoffs already so I'm probably going to get a little bit of carries this week and then they want me 100 percent for the playoffs."

Berry's return to practice this week saw him knocking off the rust but also discovering that even at less than 100 percent, his motor is raring to go.

"I felt fresh," he said. "When I went on the field I was all hyped up and pumped about being out there. I've got to take it one step at a time because I'm not 100 percent with my ankle so I'm not going full speed.

"Just to practice, being on the field in pads was great. I haven't gone through that in a while. It was crazy how good it felt to be back on the field again."

Berry could only watch as Palmetto suffered a 29-0 loss Nov. 7 to rival Miami Killan, a game that handed the district title to the Cougars. Berry's Panthers could have a chance for revenge, however: should both teams win their first-round playoff matches, they will square off again in the second round.

That thought has Berry extra motivated to get healthy.

"That's our biggest rivalry game of the year," he said. "They just outplayed us. The good thing about that is if we advance past the first round, we meet each other in the second round so I'm going to be playing that game and hopefully things will change."

Although he has primarily been focused on returning to health and getting back in the lineup, the 5-11, 193-pound Berry has been the subject of plenty of rumors regarding the verbal commitment he issued to Ohio State earlier this season.

After taking an unofficial visit to Columbus to see the Buckeyes open the 2008 season against Youngstown State, Berry issued a verbal commitment on his mother's birthday. At the time, though, he cautioned that he could still take other official visits before National Signing Day.

It appears Berry will take three more trips: one to OSU, one to Ole Miss and the final one to Florida.

"I haven't officially set any dates yet, but I'm going to Ole Miss probably sometime in January and I'm going to end up visiting Florida sometime but I don't have exact dates," he said. "I just want to get a great visit. Basically I just want to see a great atmosphere. I just want to love my visit. That's basically it."

Despite the planned trips, Berry described his commitment to the Buckeyes as "solid." His trip to OSU will be for the team's final game of the season against Michigan on Nov. 22.

Berry said the OSU coaches are fully aware of his plans and are supportive of his desire to make certain of his decision.

"They want me to make sure even if it's not them, they wan tot make sure I'm happy still," he said. "They don't try to pressure me on anything or tell me not to go anywhere. They just want me to make the right decision hoping it will be them, but they don't try to pressure you or anything like that. They're supportive of everything I do because I am a commitment.

"I can't really put a figure on it, but right now I'm committed to them. Until anything changes in my mind, it's going to be Ohio State."

Berry reports a 2.5 grade-point average. He has not yet taken the ACT but is enrolled in prep classes for the test.


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