From my experiences covering FIU football, I can tell you Kendall Berry was one of the most humble, sincere, down-to-earth Panthers.
KB unselfishly switched from receiver to running back -- even though he would have to battle 3 other RBs for playing time last season. And he would only go on to lead FIU with 6 rushing TDs, most of them entertaining runs out of the "WildBerry".
KB never complained, always had a positive energy even when he was not playing while rehabbing his torn knee that he sustained on the first day of 2008 training camp. He will certainly be missed. Here is a story I wrote after talking to some of his former teammates:
Last summer FIU defensive back O’Darris D’Haiti remembers when he was on the verge of quitting the Golden Panthers team.
D’Haiti, who walked on to the team in 2007, was getting limited reps in practice and was not sure if he would ever get regular playing time on defense.
Despite being one of FIU’s standout special teams players, D’Haiti wanted to play more on defense, but was unsure the opportunity would come.
Just when D’Haiti was ready to hang up his helmet, FIU running back Kendall Berry had a talk with him.
“Kendall had a similar situation going on offense,” D’Haiti said. “But he told me continue competing and your chance will come. I thought of quitting the team, but Kendall was the reason I stayed on there and eventually I got my chance. It’s hard that he’s gone now.”
Last season, D’Haiti became a regular on defense for FIU and finished seventh on the team in tackles.
Like D’Haiti, Berry was also battling for playing time last season.
Berry -- a former receiver-turned-running back before camp last August – started the season fourth on the depth chart after FIU signed Darian Mallary, the Miami-Dade’s leading high school rusher.
Yet, a determined Berry persevered and ended up leading the Panthers running backs with six touchdowns and even became the focal point of a new wrinkle in FIU’s offense – the “WildBerry”, in which he took the direct snap from the center and had the option of running or passing.
Berry, who missed the first five games of last season while he recuperated from knee surgery, thrived in the “WildBerry” especially in a two-game stretch against Middle Tennessee and North Texas where he rushed for a combined 185 yards and five touchdowns.
“Kendall battling back from that ACL tear and running the ball like he did was a testament to his character,” former FIU quarterback Paul McCall said. “Kendall had a big heart. He never had a problem with anyone. He never ran his mouth. Kendall was easy to get close to. He was a kind spirit and light-hearted guy.”
Former FIU offensive lineman Joe Alajajian, one of Berry’s closest friends on the team, remembers Berry’s enthusiasm and energy.
“There are some days as a player where you may not want to practice or feel tired,” Alajajian said. “Kendall would always come into the locker room smiling. He always kept everybody’s head up, being a positive guy. He never complained. He just loved what he did.”