Marcus Berry won’t coach on the sidelines during the fall for the Illinois football team.
He won’t hit the road, either, visiting high schools in an effort to land a recruit for the Illini.
Yet the Cleveland native is vital to Tim Beckman’s recruiting efforts.
Berry has had the job of director of player personnel at Illinois for nearly three months.
It’s a responsibiltiy he enjoys, but with one caveat. He can’t leave campus.
“That’s the thing the NCAA has to change,” Berry said. “The NCAA needs to designate a specific number of guys that are outside of coaching that can go and watch the high school games, go to practices, go interview teachers, janitors (and others). You make less mistakes. That would help the coaches out having a guy like me to do that.”
Berry has experience in the role. He spent the past four seasons at North Carolina with the same title, and has had internships in the player personnel department with the Green Bay Packers in 2003 and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007.
“The biggest thing is I really love evaluating players,” Berry said. “It’s a little different on the college level because I can’t physically write an evaluation, but I kind of help the coaches and guide them. The coaches write the evaluations themselves. I just get them to the right players.”
His approach is simple. Constant phone calls to coaches and contacts he has built up — he coached high school football at Friendly (Md.) High School for 11 seasons and won three state titles — along with emails, text messages and social media interaction.
“I try to get as much background information as I can (on a recruit),” Berry said. “The hardest part about my job is you’ve got to try to get that on the phone. I can’t go into the schools and I can’t go to the high school games. I can’t do none of that stuff to compile, so you have to try to have great relationships with high school coaches so they feel comfortable getting that information to you. I’m just trying to be the leg man and try to get as much inside information as I can.”