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September 12, 2010Texarkana, Texas, in 2006 was home to one of the elite quarterbacks in the country. Offers poured in from coast to coast with the 6-foot-6 prospect able to have his pick of any school. Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Miami and Nebraska all made the final cut to land the signature of the nation's No. 4 prospect.
One school that seemed to give the biggest push for the five-star's commitment was the University of Miami. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Berry was the coach that courted Texas gunslinger Ryan Mallett.
"I recruited him while I was at Miami, and he's a legitimate talent," Berry said.
It was Berry's personal touch, as he so often displays in recruiting, that really made the difference. Hand-written letters, instead of pre-printed letters with the player's name filled in, calls to chat about family and personal issues, and lots of face time to answer questions all made Miami and Berry an appealing place for Mallett to continue his football career.
"Ryan and I established a really close relationship when I was recruiting him," Berry said. "It was really, really close to him coming to Miami."
Instead of Miami, though, it was the University of Michigan where Mallett signed. His impact with the Wolverines was immediate, as he played in 11 games, including three starts when starter Chad Henne went down with an injury. Mallett's freshman season saw him pass for nearly 900 yards and seven scores.
Mallett returned to Arkansas after the coach that recruited him to Michigan was fired, and he began to re-evaluate his role in a predominantly run-oriented offense. He would have to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules for the 2008 season, but the wait seemed like a worthwhile venture, as he had grown up on Arkansas football and the chance to be a Razorback was one he couldn't pass up.
In 2009, Mallett took to the field for the Razorbacks as the starter. In his first season, he set or tied 16 Arkansas records, earned first-team All-SEC honors and was named Liberty Bowl MVP.
Despite them having gone separate ways, it was Mallett who remembered the coach from Miami who spent the extra time and care for him that was recognized after the game Saturday in Little Rock, Ark. Following ULM's 31-7 defeat, Mallett was quick to the ULM sideline to congratulate Berry, who is in his first year as the Warhawks' head coach.
"I love the kid; he's a great young man," Berry said. "You always like to see ... great competitors, great talents do well. It was nice of him to approach me after the game, and I certainly would've approached him since we have a history."