Patience is one of the essential tools for a running back. If you charge too quickly, you will never see the open lane. If you come off sluggish, you will get demolished in the back field.
Senior running back Damien Berry is a prime example of patience.
Kenny Berry, Damien’s father, was a defensive back and starter on the 1989 national championship team. He told Berry that hard work will pay off and you have to wait your turn at a great program like UM.
“At the beginning of the year, there were times where I was like, dang I haven’t played yet,” said Berry, who didn’t receive a carry against four top-25 teams the Canes opened with last season. “But I kept working toward where I have to get to. When my time came, I was ready to go.”
Berry took his father’s advice and it has fueled him into being one of the Miami Hurricanes’ greatest offensive threats. Berry finished as the team’s second-leading rusher with 616 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns.
Berry and Kenny Berry have a special bond with each other. Kenny Berry used to teach Berry about the Miami bond and how everyone was brothers.
Berry plans on installing the same wisdom his father taught him to his two daughters.
His first daughter, K’Mahri, was born on New Year’s Eve, two days after Miami’s bowl game against Wisconsin.
Berry had his second daughter during the fall camp this year. Jada Damiya, was born six pounds, seven ounces on Aug. 9.
“Now, everything I do, I think about them,” Berry said. “I know I have to work hard to be able to support the both of them.”
Berry has been used to turning any situation into a positive.
During his senior year at Belle Glade Glades Central High, he suffered a torn ACL and partially torn MCL and PCL in the fifth game of the season but continued to play and led his team to a state title despite playing on a torn knee.
Eventually Berry elected to have surgery to repair the torn ligaments a day after Christmas but it showed how much dedication and toughness it took for him to play on with his teammates.
“It is what it is,” Berry said. “That wasn’t the first time I played football in pain but I love this game to death.”
Then, when Berry came to UM as a safety, he was on the same side as his father. During his freshman year, Berry played in every game and was arguably the best player on special teams.
The following year Berry moved from safety back to running back.
Sophomore year he continued to play special teams and earned Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year.
In 2009, Berry had his breakout performance in the spring game where he rushed for 114 yards on just 14 carries and was awarded Spring Game MVP.
But still that wasn’t enough for Berry to see the field for meaningful minutes to open the season. Then there was a Berry sighting in the backfield in the first half when the Hurricanes played FAMU.
Berry crushed the Rattlers for 162 yards on 14 carries. Berry’s rushing total was the largest by a Miami player since 2005.
But it wasn’t a fluke.
A week later he was in the end zone against Central Florida. And then against Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina and twice against Virginia.
Berry finally made his true statement when the Hurricanes were trailing Duke last season. Berry saw minimal carries in the first half and then the crowd erupted in the second half chanting “Ber-ry! Ber-ry!”
On that momentum-changing drive, Berry carried the ball 10 times for 58 yards and capped the drive off with a two-yard touchdown run, putting Miami in front for good.
Now, he is no longer ‘Berry’-ed in the depth chart.
“Damien is Damien,” Shannon said. “He is a hard worker and always has been.”
Berry is in line to get the majority of carries this season and could possibly be in the end zone more often. Opponents’ defensive game plans will now revolve around Berry.
Teammates insist he is ready.
“Damien is a good guy, always been one,” redshirt sophomore Vaughn Telemaque said. “On the field, he has taken it to another level. He is catching the ball out the back field and running even harder.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.