Sometimes, it’s all about timing.
The third annual Jerry Rice Award will be presented to the nation’s top first-year player (either true freshman or redshirt freshman) in the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) at the end of the year and Alabama State’s top tackler is on the list.
Kourtney Berry, a redshirt freshman linebacker from Merrillville, Ind., probably wouldn’t have been on the list last year, had he been able to play, but is thriving in first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey’s system. Berry, of course, didn’t play in 2012 as he recovered from a serious knee injury suffered in high school, and is eligible for the award as a redshirt freshman.
The Sports Network announced its initial 20-player watch list for the 2013 award which is named for the legendary wide receiver, who played at Mississippi Valley State before becoming one of the sport’s all-time greats with the San Francisco 49ers. The award is voted on by a national poll of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.
Berry leads the Hornets in tackles with 53 tackles through the first six games of the season. He leads the team and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in sacks with 4.5 ( for 46 yards in losses) and also has 8.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage ( for 59 yards in losses). Berry also has an interception which he returned for 18 yards, a pass broken up and recovered a fumble that he returned 30 yards.
The winner will be announced at The Sports Network awards presentation banquet on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.