Rashod Berry, C.J. Saunders seize opportunity in Ohio State’s blowout of UNLV


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



COLUMBUS – Rashod Berry and and C.J. Saunders had played their positions before but they’d never been in this position before.

A game like Ohio State’s 54-21 blowout of UNLV on Saturday opened the door for players who usually don’t get on the field to have big days.

While the focus of most fans was on the playing time of the two quarterbacks not named J.T. Barrett, they were not the only ones who took advantage of the chance to show what they could do.

It was also a big day for back-up tight end Rashod Berry and walk-on receiver C.J. Saunders.

Both those players changed positions while at Ohio State. And both left the game with the hope what they did on Saturday might improve their position on the depth chart.

Berry was recruited out of high school in Lorain as a either a tight end or defensive end. After he put on 25 pounds he played defensive end last season. This year, with tight end far from a position of strength for OSU, he went back to his old position.

Saunders, a walk-on from Dublin Coffman, started out as a cornerback, but moved to receiver this summer and was impressive enough that he made the travel squad for the opener at Indiana and caught one pass for 14 yards there.

Saturday, he caught 6 passes for 102 yards and grabbed a 28-yard touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins.

Berry had three catches for 57 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown throw from Haskins on which he broke two tackles, jumped over another would-be tackler and stiff-armed a fourth defender on his way to the end zone.

“I was just determined to get the touchdown,” Berry said.

The former first-team All-Ohio player wasn’t sure he wanted to change positions this season when the idea was suggested to him.

“At first, I was like ‘I don’t know,’ because I was really set on defensive end. But I went through with it, went hard with it and the results came out well,” he said.

Saunders enrolled at Ohio State as a student after he got some Division III offers but none from Division I schools. He decided he missed football, though, and was able to get an invitation to be a walk-on.

“You always go into every game hoping for an opportunity. Coaches talk about being ready when your number is called,” Saunders said.

“It (his touchdown) was an unreal feeling. When I got in the end zone I just wanted to make sure I was in that red and when I heard the screams from my teammates and the fans I knew it was a touchdown.

“I believed in myself and a lot of people believed in me. That’s really cool,” he said.

OSU coach Urban Meyer said he thinks Berry could use Saturday’s game to get more playing time. “You see the talent. He is a very talented guy.”

For Saunders, the length of his wait to get an opportunity like Saturday again might depend on his weight.

Meyer said, “His issue is can he get strong enough to play at this level. He’s got the shake, he’s got the hands. He’s got the courage but he’s got to get stronger. You can’t be a hood ornament. You’ve got to be able to block in the running game.”

https://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/09/web1_Ohio-State-Logo-WEB-12.jpg

By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.