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MSU's Berry is a hit on and off the field

 

Danny P Smith

 

STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State senior quarterback Tyson Lee is glad junior wide receiver Leon Berry joined the Bulldogs. 

 

On the field, Berry is a go-to player in coach Dan Mullen''s spread offense. 

 

Berry is equally valuable off the field because he can grill a pretty good steak. 

 

Lee has dined at Berry''s house and said his steaks are the best he has had in a while. 

 

"Anytime I''m hungry, that''s where I try to hit if I can," Lee said. "I like him a lot for that." 

 

Berry doesn''t mind being a good host because the Bulldogs made him feel right at home when he arrived at MSU for spring practice. 

 

"I try to get a personal relationship with everybody, so I invited (Lee) and Brandon McRae over one night," Berry said. "We ate and chilled out. Tyson did homework, of course. B-Mac and I played video games. 

 

"The guys are cool. I was a little nervous when I first got here because this was big-time football, but once I got the chance to meet everyone, things have been going well." 

 

Lee said Berry can be laid back at times and likes to "goof off and cut up." 

 

Berry enjoys taking that good time to the football field. 

 

"It just makes it a whole lot easier," Berry said. "Most guys just practice because they''ve got to do it, but, at the end of the day, it pays off. You''ve just got to have fun." 

 

The Bulldogs hope to have quite a bit of fun at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Comcast) when they play host to Georgia Tech, a team from Berry''s home state. 

 

Berry started for three seasons as a running back and cornerback for Griffin (Ga.) High School. 

 

South Carolina showed interest in Berry out of high school, but he attended East Mississippi Community College for two seasons. 

 

Berry had a productive career with the Lions. After catching 20 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman, Berry had 39 catches for 661 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore. 

 

Berry also used his talents on special teams and had 43 kickoff returns for 1,126 yards and two touchdowns. He returned 10 punts for 129 yards and one score as a sophomore.  

 

Berry said the opportunity to attend MSU has been a blessing. 

 

"I just kept praying and the Lord worked it out," Berry said. 

 

Lee likes having a player with Berry''s ability on offense. 

 

"Anytime you get the ball into his hands, he''s able to do things with it," Lee said.  

 

Berry is tied for the team lead with 10 catches. He is second on the team with 119 yards receiving. 

 

Berry was used to getting the football eight to 10 times per game at EMCC, so he has had to adjust to a different role at MSU. 

 

"I''m progressing," Berry said. "I''m not mad here because it''s a team thing." 

 

On special teams this season, Berry has returned 15 kicks for 350 yards, an average of 23.3 yards per return and six punts for 58 yards, an average of 9.7 yards per return. 

 

MSU coach Dan Mullen said Berry has assumed a leadership role in his first season. He said Berry''s decision to go through spring practice and summer workouts helped him make the transition. 

 

"He''s one our most experienced wide receivers, and I think he kind of plays that way," Mullen said. "We move him around a little bit because he''s probably the guy most comfortable with the system because he''s been in it the longest."  

 

n Practicing against option: MSU opened practice Tuesday with a session on where defenders need to be against the option. 

 

The Bulldogs know assignment football will be key if they want to have an opportunity to shut down Georgia Tech''s triple-option. 

 

MSU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said the unit appears to understand what it has to do and it''s just a matter of perfecting it and taking it to the game. 

 

"If you do it right, read it right, scheme it right, then it works," Torbush said. "They''ve got to understand you can''t just do it right three out of four times (in practice). It''s got to be four out of four or five out of five." 

 

Torbush said quarterback Josh Nesbit, who "has a pretty good arm" when he decides to throw, and running back Jonathan Dwyer, who is like "a tailback playing fullback," make the Yellow Jackets so tough to defend. 

 

"They give (Dwyer) the ball on some counter option and he runs extremely fast," Torbush said. 

 

Mullen sent the Bulldogs through the usual three-hour practice and there were indications he wasn''t pleased with how things went. 

 

Mullen was very short with reporters during the post-practice interview, only saying the workout was "good." When asked to elaborate, Mullen said he had done that and walked off.

 

 

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