It was a little over a year ago when Stanley Berryhill III was awarded a scholarship by the Arizona Wildcats.
It was a big accomplishment for the Tucson native who worked his way into relevance, but he made it clear that he still was not satisfied with his place in the program.
“I have a lot of little goals that I keep with me and my dad,” he said last season. “Become a starter next year, stuff like that. It’s just part of the process.”
Berryhill checked that box in Week 0 when he started against Hawaii. The redshirt sophomore took full advantage of it too, turning in a career performance by catching three passes for a team-high 92 yards and a touchdown.
To the surprise of, well, no one.
“That’s why we gave him a scholarship last year,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said Monday. “I mean, he’s always got it. Great character. Great personality, fun to be around. He’s just a team player. This guy just goes out and does his job. He’s a leader on this team, not just offensively.”
“He brings that quickness at the line of scrimmage,” receivers coach Taylor Mazzone said of Berryhill during fall camp. “That’s his strength. He’s obviously a returner as well, so he has that top-end speed. And he’s competitive. He made a lot of competitive catches last year for touchdowns versus big opponents. And the one thing I think when I think Stan Berryhill, I think fearless. It doesn’t matter what the situation the game is, he’s right there like dying to get in. He’s a guy that you always have to pull back a little bit. So anytime he goes in, I know that he’s going to be right on.”
Berryhill was a slot receiver last season, but lined up on the outside against Hawaii, where the team is less stocked with talent, though he expects to get reps at both positions this year.
“It’s just whatever is best for the team,” Berryhill said. “That’s what the coaches think, that’s best for the team, and that’s what I’m going to do. It doesn’t matter to me what position as long as I’m helping the team.”
Berryhill suffered a knee injury during the offseason that limited him during spring ball. He admits he occasionally thought about how being sidelined could hurt his place on the depth chart, knowing there are several young receivers on the roster who are just as hungry for playing time as he is, but he credits his coaches, teammates, and parents for keeping upbeat as he recovered.
“So I felt that as long as I know the playbook, I’m gonna get on the field,” Berryhill said.
It helps that Berryhill’s work ethic has not slipped since he became a scholarship player.
“You’re not supposed to get comfortable,” he said. “You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I worked as hard as I did when I was a walk-on trying to make the team, so that’s what I’m doing now.”
Only one game into the 2019 season, Berryhill has already logged 42 percent of the receiving yards he had all of last season. Still, his standout performance against Hawaii felt hollow because the Wildcats fell short in Honolulu.
“I mean, it shows that my hard work is paying off, but it’s not always about me. It’s about the team,” he said. “So...all that can go to the wayside until we start winning games.”
About that celebration penalty...
Berryhill’s most memorable play against Hawaii—his 21-yard touchdown catch—also produced an embarrassing moment. After striding into the end zone, he ran over to the stands to high-five some Arizona fans, and was penalized 15 yards for it.
“To be honest, I didn’t know that was a penalty, but I know not to do it again,” he said. “After I did it, I kind of like second guessed myself. But I didn’t know, some of the coaches didn’t know it was a penalty. So I got in trouble for it, but it wasn’t as big as I thought it was going to be.”
Yeah, they’ll flag you for high-fiving fans after a TD pic.twitter.com/SuxzAmDrod— CFB Gif'er (@CFBgifer) August 25, 2019