Spruce Creek's standout linebacker holds offers from UF and UNC.
Entering Week 2 of the 2017 football season, Spruce Creek’s Kyle Minckler, the Hawks’ senior quarterback and one of the area’s best signal callers, walked right up to Hawks linebacker Tyler Berrong.
“Do you know you're one of the leaders on the team?” Minckler asked him.
Berrong, just a sophomore, was caught off guard.
“I was still looking up to all the seniors and learning from them,” Berrong said. “I didn’t realize people were also looking up to me.”
At 16 years old, Berrong — who stands at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds — is one of the youngest players on the Hawks’ 63-man squad. But he’s also one of its best. Berrong helped lead a team that went 8-1 in the regular season and made it to the playoffs until the No. 8 seeded Hawks were bounced by No. 1 seed Winter Park on Friday, Nov. 10.
Berrong said there were certainly highs and lows throughout the year, but that he used it as a learning experience and a chance to hone his new-found leadership role.
“All the seniors that are leaving, they taught me stuff I never knew before, especially because I had to learn a new position,” he said. “They taught me just to keep my attitude up and don’t get down. People on the team look to me for answers. If I start to get aggravated, they’re going to become aggravated. So, if I stay positive, everybody else will stay positive.”
Berrong started playing football in sixth grade. He made the switch from baseball because his parents said “he needed something to do.”
And after five years of playing, what’s Berrong’s favorite thing to do on the field?
“I just like hitting people,” said Berrong, who made the switch from the offensive line to defense in the eighth grade. “On defense, you hit people more than you gain it. On offense, they’re hitting you.”
And in three years, Berrong will likely being “hitting people” at the next level. He currently holds scholarship offers from the University of Florida and the University and North Carolina.
He received the offers the second before the last week of school during his freshman year at Spruce Creek — on the same day.
“I got the UF offer first period, and then I got the UNC offer during lunch,” he said. “I was definitely not expecting that.”
Berrong said expects “the adrenaline to be pumping” once he runs onto the field for his first college football game. But he wants to enjoy his high school years while he can.
“I don’t want it to go by fast,” Berrong said of his high school experience. “I like the atmosphere of high school football. The atmosphere in college is probably way better. But I’m playing with people I actually know, and that makes it special. When I get to college, I’m going to have to recreate that relationship again.”