October 8, 2009

Berry to play Saturday?

COLUMBUS - Ohio State freshman running backs Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry brought their reputations with them to Columbus this year when joining the Buckeye football team.

It was Berry's, however, that stood out the most when it came to making plays on the field. However, it has been Hall who has had all the playing time while Berry has been sidelined to a nagging injury.

Despite the fact the Buckeyes seem to be all set at running back - particularly because of the impressive showings from Hall early this season - it doesn't seem as if redshirting Berry is part of the plan for Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

Tressel said Tuesday that Berry was pretty close to getting into the game against the Hoosiers last Saturday in Bloomington.

"He was probably at 90-95 percent and we took him (to Bloomington)," Tressel said. "If we had gotten banged a little bit at tailback in the course of the game, he was probably the next guy to go in the game. Didn't have to, which meant he got another day (to heal up), but he came in Sunday when we did a little work and he looked good.

"As far as our thinking with him from a redshirting standpoint, we try not to think about that a whole bunch as far as tailbacks because you can be thinking for a moment that you're just fine and two turned ankles later, you're not so fine," Tressel added Tuesday. "So, we're planning right now as if he's got to get ready to play."

Berry has been practicing all week and Tressel said during his press conference Thursday that he has look good all week. However, Tressel added that Berry suffered a minor setback and they will evaluate him Thursday afternoon.

From the sound of it, it doesn't look like it will be enough to keep Berry on the shelf for another week, even when combined with the fact that there are three other tailbacks in front of him in Hall, Dan Herron, and Brandon Saine.

"If he were looking like he did in Tuesday, Wednesday practice we would certainly consider playing him in the right spots," Tressel said Thursday.

So now, despite the fact that Wisconsin game marks the halfway point in the season, it certainly doesn't look as if Berry being stashed on the bench as a redshirt is something the Buckeye coaching staff is seriously considering.

There was a reason Berry was considered to be one of the best prospects in the 2009 class, thus making it hard for the coaching staff to stash him away and not let him bring his attributes to the field.

But when looking at the present situation, it could seem like a waste to disregard his redshirt halfway through the season so he can get 3-5 mop-up duty carries a game when there are three capable backs still in front of him.

Tressel has always said that redshirts will only be kept if the team doesn't need the specific player, so it is certainly possible that Berry's talent - when healthy - cannot be disregarded.

That all being said, it looks as if Berry's time to get into the game is coming. Whether or not it is worth it still remains to be seen.

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