TERRE HAUTE — College report: Terre Haute pair Berry, Comer to boost Sycamores’ lines
While many people have varying opinions on the most important position on a football team, most old-school gridiron veterans would consider strong line play as a necessity for anything else to work — kind of like pitching in baseball and guard play in basketball.
Indiana State’s football team ran woefully short of linemen last season on both sides of the ball, a fact that contributed in large part to the team’s disappointing 1-11 record.
The Sycamores will receive a great local boost in that area on the Feb. 5 signing day, when Terre Haute South’s Junior Berry and Terre Haute North’s Lucas Comer will sign letters of intent to join the ISU program and bring about 600 pounds of toughness to the line.
Berry actually was a teammate of Comer’s early in his high school career, and transferred to South to conclude his prep eligibility.
“I had a really good high school career in football, and I got lucky because I got to experience both Terre Haute schools,” he said. “This was a really big help for me because there were great coaches at both schools.”
Berry started at defensive tackle as a freshman at North, and was a two-way starter on the line for the past three seasons.
The 6-2, 300-pounder was all-state in his junior and senior years and earned all-conference honors both years.
“I would like to thank my youth football coaches [Rick Comer, who is Lucas’ father, and Norman Lowery] for being such a big support and help towards my skills,” he said. “They taught me the game of football.”
After initially making a verbal commitment to attend Toledo and considering other FBS schools, he chose ISU because of the community.
“It’s very welcoming and I know I can be a big part of the team as soon as I get there,” he said. “The coaches there are very confident about me, and they have plan for me to be successful. Also, I’m still close to home but at the same time I feel like I’m not home.
“It’s a really good feeling and I’m positive about my choice,” he said.
Berry said the initial plan is for him to play defensive tackle, but any college football fan knows the number of players who change positions at some point is very high.
“I will let the coaches choose since they’ve invested in me,” he said.
South Coach Tim Herrin will miss Berry’s presence in the trenches.
“Junior was an outstanding lineman on both sides of the ball,” he said. “He has tremendous technique that makes him a special player. He uses his hands well to get off blocks. I think he will have a great career at ISU, and he should be able to step right in and make an impact. ISU is getting a tremendous football player.”
Comer is 6-5, 275 pounds and was a main cog in North having one of the state’s top running games this season on its way to a final four finish in the Class 5A state tournament.
Even though his senior season ended a couple of steps short of where he wanted it to, Comer enjoyed his run as a Patriot.
“My high school football career has been crazy,” he said. “We had winning seasons three out of four years I was there. My junior and senior year we accomplished things that many people didn’t think we could do like beating Warren Central and getting to semistate.
“It has just been a great ride playing for Terre Haute North.”
Comer chose ISU not only for the football aspect, but for his educational preference as well.
“I am going to be a business major and the business school there is very nice and up to date,” he said. “Both of my parents are Sycamores and my dad also played for ISU. It is a beautiful school and I feel that I will be happiest there.”
Rick Comer was an all-state lineman at South in the mid-1980s and earned a scholarship to the University of Illinois out of high school before transferring to ISU to finish his career.
Lucas also considered Marian, Wabash, Southern Illinois and Indianapolis.
“I hope to play offensive line at ISU,” he said, “but I know I need to get up to 295 or 300 pounds.”
North coach Chris Barrett will also be sorry to see Comer depart, but is glad he will be able to see him play locally.
“Lucas is an all-state, all-conference and all-Wabash Valley lineman who plays with great tenacity,” he said. “He plays to the whistle every play, and he reminds me of his dad, who I played with at Indiana State. He has the frame to carry another 30-40 pounds, and I’m glad to see he is going to be a Sycamore.”
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at email@example.com