Had it been the Arizona Wildcats’ only touchdown on Saturday night, rather than the start of a frantic near-comeback against USC, Stanley Berryhill III’s 33-yard catch wouldn’t have been considered a meaningless score.
Not when the recipient entered training camp as a one of dozens of walk-ons, non-scholarship players who essentially were paying for the privilege of being on the football team.
Berryhill’s time as a walk-on ended in mid-August when he was awarded a scholarship, a move by coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff that paid off when the redshirt freshman caught his first career TD pass in the Wildcats’ 24-20 loss to the Trojans.
“It was exciting,” Berryhill said of the score. “It gives you more confidence on the field, and you know that you did what you had to do to receive a scholarship.”
A Tucson native who attended Mountain View High School for three years before graduating from a school in California, Berryhill has a single reception in each of Arizona’s five games. Four have resulted in first downs, including a pair on third and long.
It was a little more than six weeks ago that Berryhill was awarded his scholarship, finding out during a team meeting when Sumlin was doing training camp announcements and the projector screen behind him suddenly read …
Update:✅ pic.twitter.com/SHSAXG7bhF— Stanley Berryhill (@stanb14_sb) August 19, 2018
“It took a while to comprehend what was going on,” Berryhill said. “All I know is I’m getting hit by all the players because they were excited. Then it clicked.”
Unlike most football scholarships, Berryhill said his is just for this season but can be renewed “if you do good.” He plans on doing just that since he said earning the scholarship wasn’t meant to be the end game.
“I have a lot of little goals that I keep with me and my dad,” he said. “Become a starter next year, stuff like that. It’s just part of the process.”
Scoring a TD was also on that goals list, and Berryhill says he had a feeling it was going to happen when it did. The play, called 91, was something he ran often in practice and had already resulted in a 32-yard catch by senior Shun Brown five plays earlier.
“The whole game we knew we could run this play,” Berryhill said. “It’s like an inside fade and hitch on the outside. I went in and first play I got in they said 91. I kinda had an idea that this is the time it was going to come to me so I just took off, gave (the defender) an inside move and saw I was two steps ahead.”