Michael Berry ’18
North Potomac, Md.
When did you start playing football?
I started playing football when I was six years old, as soon as I could get my hands on some pads.
What was your football experience like growing up?
I played for a competitive youth football team and then I just played up through high school. I was fortunate enough to get recruited to one of the local private schools, Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md., and I got to play there for four years.
What was the recruiting process like and how did you choose Williams?
The process was actually pretty funny. It was really late in the process. I was in the process of deciding whether I was going to walk on at Amherst or play for Oberlin, a school that recruited me pretty heavily throughout my senior season. At one of the camps I went to, they set us up some recruiting profiles with NCSA [Next College Student Athlete] and [Aaron] Kelton, who was the head coach at the time, shot me an email and told me that he’d like me to come visit. He liked my film and everything I was doing so that was how I got connected and I was one of the last commits in late February or early March.
What positions did you play at high school and here at Williams?
In high school, I played fullback, running back, outside linebacker and middle linebacker, but mainly my senior season I ended up playing mostly fullback and middle linebacker. Here I play middle and outside linebacker.
Why do you like playing linebacker?
On defense, I feel like individual players have a lot more control of what goes on than on offense. Offensively, everyone is tailored to achieving the goal of getting the first down. But on defense, there is so much more freedom. Linebacker is kind of like the running back of the defense, where you get to see things and react to them. It’s just perfect.
What professional player would you compare yourself most closely to?
That’s a tough one. If I had to say a player that I would compare myself most closely to today, it would be along the lines of a Will Compton of the Washington Redskins or Denzel Perryman of the San Diego Chargers, undersized guys with decent instincts who fly around and throw their weight around regardless of who they’re going against.
Do you prefer defending against the run or playing in coverage?
It’s a toss-up. Honestly, I just like playing football. As a linebacker, it’s just fun to tackle people. But in the passing game, you definitely make some plays just by reading the quarterback’s eyes or jumping a route. I don’t know; I don’t have a preference.
What has the experience been like this year as a captain?
It’s been definitely an adjustment, having a new coach and trying to get adjusted. Last year, I was kinda the young buck on the squad, where I was one of the only sophomores starting, so I got a chance to follow the lead of a lot of older guys who could show me the ropes. This year, instead, I have a whole bunch more people with eyes on me because of the title. It’s definitely been a process on how to not focus just on the title that surrounds being captain but on doing whatever it is that got me elected captain by my teammates. At the beginning of the season, it was definitely a challenge, but now, I feel like I’m definitely settling into my own. It’s coming along nicely.
What’s it like to be a junior captain?
It’s a great opportunity to get two chances to lead the team because a lot of guys have a great junior season and get thrown into a leadership position in their senior year and don’t get really a time to adjust to how they’ll be seen in that role. But me and Chris Hattar [’18], the other junior captain, are fortunate enough to be put in this position where we have another year to go. We have a new coach and we are trying to get a whole new culture going. Two guys who definitely have that same vision and are trying to push that culture as best as possible is a great opportunity.
Is it tough to be a captain on a team as large as the football team?
There’s three of us, so none of us have the whole weight of the world on our shoulders. Chris and I are on defense, I play a lot of special teams and Eric [Davis ’17] is on offense. At the end of the day, the 60 other dudes that are in the locker room with me are my brothers. They might be different, but at the end of the day, I feel like I can connect with everyone on a good level. I feel like we are moving in that direction more so than we have been in as long as I can remember.
Favorite NFL team?
I’m definitely a big Washington Redskins fan because I am from the D.C. area. It’s always been my team.
What’s your go-to snackbar order?
This year, I’ve really been a fan of the chicken Caesar wrap either with a side of fries or a smoothie. Strawberry banana is definitely a go-to order; it’s light on the stomach.