St. Martin’s Harlem Berry ranked No. 1 running back in America

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 9:54 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “The ability to cut on a dime. To change direction in a hurry. The way he sees the field it’s so phenomenal. I had one SEC coach say he can be on the field as a receiver, a running back,” said On3 national recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman.

St. Martin’s running back Harlem Berry is the total package, and he possesses the numbers to back it up. In only two years with the Saints, Berry racked up 67 touchdowns, with 4,723 yards total. It’s one of many reasons On3 recruiting service ranked him the No. 1 running back in America for his class. There are only two others in the area that can lay claim to best back in the country, Leonard Fournette and Joe McKnight.

“Harlem is different. He’s got that “it” factor. The great ones, you can recognize things when they’re young. They understand things when they’re young that peers don’t,” said St. Martin’s head football coach Kevin Dizer.

“Leonard Fournette is a unicorn. Joe McKnight and Harlem Berry are gifted in the same facet. Both home run hitters. Absolutely unequivocally can make you miss,” said Spiegelman.

It’s unthinkable to comprehend now. Berry actually enrolled at St. Martin’s a few years back with his full focus on basketball. The last time he suited up on the gridiron, pee-wee football. Harlem had a change of heart and wanted to go back to shoulder pads and big hits. One problem, he needed his mother’s approval.

“He asked me if would I talk to my wife about playing football. He was nervous about giving her consent with him playing football. He’s like, ‘Dad I want to play football.’ I’m going to talk with your mom and see what we can do,” said Harlem’s father, Harry Berry.

She said yes, and now tiny St. Martin’s is the “place to be” for Friday night football.

“It’s unbelievably rare. Even with St. Martin’s being a smaller school, they haven’t been a historically football school. For that type of kid to show up here, with that type of talent. It’s almost like a Hollywood story,” said Dizer.

St. Martin’s is one of the smallest high schools in the New Orleans area with an enrollment of 168 students. Outsiders have openly questioned, why would the best running back in the country stay on the Metairie campus. The bigger schools, they’ve approached the Berry family, but the junior is staying put.

“My message to him when I got here, you’re happy and you’re about to get everything you want and desire. Just wait and see,” said Dizer.

“St. Martin’s has done a lot for me and my family. I wouldn’t want to leave and go somewhere else just because I think I’m a big-time player. I would like to stay here and keep working and graduate. I really wouldn’t be leaving for exposure. So there really wouldn’t be any point for me to leave. I guess to play better competition. I train, I go to camps and stuff. So I’m already going against good competition,” said junior Harlem Berry.

All the big-time programs in the country want Berry on their campus. He’s got scholarship offers from Ohio State, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and LSU.

In your wildest dreams did you think we would get to this point?

“No sir. I just came here to play basketball, but I got on that football field, and it just happened. I never thought it would get this big,” said Berry.

“He’s commanded the attention of schools in the state, out of the state, coast to coast. No one has been able to solve Harlem Berry to this point. I don’t think over the next two years there will be a defense that can really slow him down. In the process he’s putting St. Martin’s on the map,” said Spiegelman.

Berry owns eye-popping stats, he’s got the attention of every high-profile coach in the country, but there’s one thing missing, a state championship.

“It would be amazing. Seeing the bright lights, big stadium. Might have some fans there. Probably more than I imagined, but it would look small. But it would be a great feeling,” said Berry.

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