Berry Ready To Move On

Plenty of freshmen football players arrive at Ohio State eager to make their mark on the program. This fall, running back Jaamal Berry is hoping to put together a season that makes amends for his arrest and the subsequent uncertainty that surrounded his career. BuckeyeSports.com has more.

Describing the situation as a learning experience, Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry said he is excited to put his summer troubles behind him and start his freshman season.

After committing to the Buckeyes despite heavy pressure to stay within his home state of Florida, the former four-star running back prospect had been pegged as an impact player from the date he set foot on campus. But on June 11, the native of Miami was arrested and charged with felony marijuana possession, and a seemingly bright future was very much in doubt.

Nearly two months later, the running back has seen the charges reduced to a misdemeanor with the potential to have them dropped completely if he completes a six-month diversionary course. A few days before the latter announcement, OSU head coach Jim Tressel said Berry would not be held back for his legal troubles.

With fall camp set to kick off August 10th, Berry said he is ready to get on the field and prove that he has put the past behind him.

"It was a big learning experience, (learning to) hang around the right people and do school first," Berry told BuckeyeSports.com. "We had summer classes and I did great in my classes. School is first and football is second. Do that and everything else will follow."

The 5-11, 195-pound running back is billed as a shifty athlete who can carve out a role for the Buckeyes as a true freshman. The OSU coaches often say they like to have "a pair and a spare" when it comes to running backs, and Berry was pegged as a compliment to returnees Dan Herron and Brandon Saine.

Immediately after his arrest, however, Berry was worried he had blown his chance.

"When it first happened, I really didn't know anything until I spoke to the coaches," he said. "They just let me know everything was going to be all right, that I made a mistake and I have to move on."

Berry said he has not had much conversation with the coaches since the arrest.

"I'm ready to play football now."

On the field, Berry has at least one vocal supporter of his abilities. Although Berry has only been able to take part in 7-on-7 drills and other conditioning and weightlifting after arriving on campus in mid June, Saine said he is impressed with what he has to offer.

"I've seen (him) a little bit," he said. "He's quicker than us. He's probably the quickest back I've ever seen. He's fun to watch."

His limited time as a Buckeye has shown him that his fellow players have his back and are supportive of him regardless of the situation, Berry said.

"Everyone on the team helped me a lot," he said. "They're a big family here. They helped me get through it. They said, ‘Don't worry about it – just don't let it happen again.' "

Although the start of camp is looming, Berry will not be completely full-go for the start of practice. A nagging ankle injury that has dogged him for the better part of the last year has seen to that.

"I'm still rehabbing some little things on my ankle because the ankle, it really takes a long time to heal," he said. "I'm almost there. I'm like 90, 95 percent healed with my ankle."

Berry eventually selected the Buckeyes over offers from the likes of Florida, Florida State and LSU among others. He committed to OSU shortly after taking a trip to campus for the team's first game of the year in late August – nearly a full year ago.

Reflecting back on the process, Berry said he could not be happier about his decision.

"My first time coming here I fell in love with the place and then I looked up everything about it, the tradition and if I'm going to have time as a freshman to play and everything just fit in the right spot," he said. "I think this is the best place for me."

Fully healthy or not, Berry said he has a few goals for his freshman season.

"I want to be an impact player and help the team go further and hopefully to a national championship," he said. "I want to make plays, get noticed and help the team out. I want to be a big-time playmaker on offense.

"I want to show everyone what I can do. Everyone saw what I could do in high school but I want to show what I can do on the college level and make plays."

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