WEST PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth West High School will have another one of its student-athletes continue their academic and athletic careers into the collegiate world, as John Berry officially signed to play football for the Eagles at Morehead State University.
A brief signing ceremony was held for Berry and his family Wednesday morning in the West High School Library.
A lot of thought went into choosing Morehead State, according to Berry, but when he finally decided where he wanted to further his academic and athletic career, he knew he had made the right choice.
“They were the first school to show an interest (in me),” Berry said.
That interest began during Berry’s junior year, when several officials with the Eagles’ football program visited West Portsmouth as they played the Fairland Dragons. From there, Berry made a visit to the university and ultimately decided to choose Morehead State.
“I just liked the school,” Berry said. “When I went down to visit, that was it, I knew it.”
Berry’s decision to choose Morehead State also had a personal meaning, as one of the assistants for the Portsmouth West football program, Jerrod Pendleton, and a personal mentor and role model to Berry, attended and played football for the university.
The Portsmouth West senior admitted he was grateful for Pendleton’s help and that he knew it was not an ordinary situation.
“I’m very thankful,” Berry said. “It’s not common that you have someone from your school, that has been there and done that. It’s good, I like it.”
Despite knowing his time at West is nearly over, Berry hasn’t reflected much on his time at the high school.
“It doesn’t feel like it is over yet,” Berry said. “It’s not like a big, it’s not all sad, you know, it’s not over, but it does feel pretty good. I will miss being under the Friday night lights, because there’s nothing that compares to that.”
Berry and Zack Moore, Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach at Morehead State, have been in contact recently to discuss some of what Berry could expect as he enters the Eagles’ football program.
“Coach Moore has talked to me about playing outside linebacker,” Berry said.
So far, that’s all Berry has been told of what position he would most likely be playing.
West football coach and West High School Athletic Director, Ben Johnson had high words of praise for his now former player.
“John is one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached, and one of the hardest working I’ve ever been around,” Johnson said. “I’m glad to see that he is going to get to continue his football career.”
Aside from his athletic ability and work ethic, Johnson also admired Berry’s determination to overcome adversity.
“He’s had a lot of adversity throughout his high school career with injuries and things,” Johnson said. “I’m thankful he’s going to get one more chance to give it a go at the next level.”
Berry’s absence will be felt during football season next year, according to Johnson, who said he will miss the leadership the future Eagle brought to the Senators.
Johnson is excited for Berry, as he takes the next step in his life.
“He has a lot of potential,” Johnson said. “I’ll be excited to get to see him continue his career, because we kind of missed out on it a little bit here.”
Berry already has a plan for his academic future, as he will be pursuing a degree in nursing. Once he has completed his studies at Morehead State, Berry plans on being a registered nurse.
“That’s it for now,” Berry said. “I plan to move on beyond that.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.