Sports

Coker gets his man

National Signing Day is still a week away, but UM coach Larry Coker has already landed the nation’s top football recruit – just not this year’s top recruit.
Brock Berlin, USA Today’s 1999 National Offensive Prep Player of the Year, was introduced to the South Florida media on Thursday for the first time since transferring from the University of Florida.
“This is a little bit of a bonus to our recruiting class,” Coker said. “I came to Evangel (Christian Academy in Shreveport, La.) trying to recruit a receiver named Abram Booty (who eventually went to LSU). I think Brock was a sophomore or maybe a freshman at that time, but the coaches said, ‘You’ll be back for this young man.’
Coker was enthusiastic about Berlin, the 6-1, 209-pound junior and possible heir apparent to Ken Dorsey as the Hurricanes’ quarterback. Under NCAA rules, Berlin will have to sit out the 2002 season, Dorsey’s senior campaign, and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Coker stressed, however, that Berlin would have to earn that starting job.
“There are no guarantees here,” Coker said. “All he wants is an opportunity to compete for the job.”
Berlin will be competing with current UM backups Derrick Crudup, a red-shirt junior in 2003, and Buck Ortega, a red-shirt sophomore. Also in the mix is Marc Guillon, a 6-4, 185 pound incoming recruit, who is graduating from Dorsey’s old high school, Miramonte (Calif.) High. Berlin says he’s looking forward to the competition.
“I know there are other guys here that can play,” Berlin said. “I’ll just come in, work hard and compete and see what happens.
“I don’t want to come here and make (Crudup) feel like I’m the man or anything. I know we’re both up for the job after this year. Let the best man win.”
Berlin had been toiling under Rex Grossman at Florida, and had his red-shirt burned his freshman year by former UF coach Steve Spurrier. Berlin had made up his mind to transfer to UM before the FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, but hesitated for a moment when Grossman contemplated leaving early for the NFL.
“I wanted an opportunity to play,” Berlin said. “If Rex would have left to go pro, then I would have wanted to stay with my buddies at Florida. But Rex decided to stay and I looked for the best opportunity.”
Berlin made the most of his opportunity when he did get to play at UF, completing 53-of-87 passes for 653 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in 11 regular season games. He also started in the Orange Bowl against Maryland, going 11-of-19 for 196 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown. Besides that start, Berlin was used to sitting on the bench and will use that experience to help him through the 2002 season.
“I think it will be hard,” Berlin said. “These past two years have been hard. I’ve learned a lot about patience. Another year, that gets under your skin. You want to be out on the field making plays. But, hopefully, it goes by fast for me.”
If Berlin does start in 2003, he may be highlighting one date on the schedule – a game against UF in the Orange Bowl. He said he enjoyed his time in Gainesville but is ready to help the Hurricanes continue their success.
“I loved playing for the Gators, but I made the move and now I’m a ‘Cane,” Berlin said. “I’m ready to play the Gators when it comes that time. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”

January 29, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.