Berry A Talented Player In His Own Right

Cynics looking at yesterday's commitment of half-brothers Scooter Berry and Jason Gwaltney might believe that former was part of a package deal, but nothing is further from the truth. Berry is an outstanding fullback who would have been the feature back at any other school in New York. In this exclusive interview, he tells about his decision to join the Mountaineer program.

"We didn't really plan to go to college together," the punishing fullback and linebacker said of his and Jason's collegiate future. "We didn't talk about it or anything like that. We were each looking at some schools, but when we visited WVU on Monday it just all came together, so we decided to commit."

That statement alone should be enough to dispel any talk of a package deal, and if it doesn't then the comments of North Babylon head coach Terry Manning should seal it.

"I went to Scooter and told him that he'd be the feature back just about anywhere else," Manning told "But here, to help the team, he was going to have to block. It's a credit to him that he accepted that and has done so well."

From the fullback position in North Babylon's wishbone offense, Berry is involved in contact on every play. "Paving the way" might be a bit of an understatement to describe some of the blocks that Berry throws from that spot, and it all stems from his love of one of football's basics.

"Contact," the soft-spoken, yet confident, Berry pronounced. "I really like the physical part of the game."

Berry gets the chance to hit on the other side of the ball as well. A defensive end as a sophomore, he was moved to inside linebacker last year, and took to it like, well, like to a fullback making a lead block.

"I was used to it, because I played some linebacker in jayvee," Berry noted. "So, it wasn't a big change. At linebacker I get to be involved in just aobut every play, running to the football, and hitting. I love that."

Manning is looking for even more than the 63 tackles Berry recorded last year, saying "one hundred or 110 is a good goal." Berry, however, thinks the ceiling can be raised even higher. "A buck fifty," is his prediction for his tackle totals this year.

While a lot of focus has been on his suitability for defense, he is likely to begin his career as a fullback. Berry says his blocking ability is the best part of his game, but Manning notes that his prized blocker also has good hands and catches the ball well out of the backfield.

Like Gwaltney, this was Berry's fist visit to West Virginia, and like many people on his first trip to the WVU campus, was surprised at what he found at the WVU football complex.

"I didn't expect to see what I saw, and what I did was outstanding," Berry said of the Mountaineer facilities. "I was very impressed. I liked the people, and the campus is great."

As the lesser-publicized of the brother combination, Berry is used to Gwaltney getting more of the spotlight. He does, however, note that it's a special feeling to have a relative running through holes he helped create.

"It feels very good to see him run," Berry said. "I can relate to all the TDs and the yardage, because I know I helped him get them."

Berry doesn't seen anyone slowing down North Babylon's rushing express this year, either. "We are hard to stop. I'm confident we can keep doing what we have been doing."

Berry, whose given name is Richard, got his nickname in an unusual way.

"When I was born, my eyes were two different colors," Berry recalled with a laugh. My grandmother saw that, and said it reminded her of a scooter she used to have that had two different colored wheels. So, she started calling me Scooter, and it stuck. I've been Scooter ever since."

While "Scooter" might not be the most appropriate nickname for a player who is approaching 250 pounds and hits with all the finesse of a bulldozer, Mountaineer fans will be happy to chant that name for years to come - years that promise to be filled with more crunching blocks and back-springing long runs.

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