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June 16, 2012Saturday was a special day for Jake Berman.
In Orlando for an unofficial visit to UCF, the hard-hitting linebacker from Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier received his first offer from the Knights and committed on the spot.
"It's like a dream come true," Berman said. "I've wanted to play college football since I was five years old. This is the moment. The hair on my arms stood up. I'm excited to become a Knight."
Berman spent nearly three hours on campus meeting with the entire defensive coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Jim Fleming, linebackers coach Tyson Summers, secondary coach Kirk Callahan and defensive line coach Blaise Winter.
"The offer wasn't a surprise," Berman said. "Coach Fleming had told me he was 99.9 percent sure I would be offered today. He made me promise to commit and that's what I did. I committed."
Berman said he loved everything about UCF, but the main attraction was the coaching staff.
"The thing I like the most are the coaches," he said. "They're all about building a good relationship. They want you to first succeed in the classroom. That's first before football. Coach George O'Leary is an old-school guy and he's all about grades, attitude, how you dress and things like that. Academics before football."
UCF's interest in Berman ramped up after seeing him in action during the evaluation period.
"At the beginning of spring, Coach Callahan really liked me," Berman said. "I then started talking to the linebackers coach more and then the defensive coordinator. I've been talking with them every week for like two months. One week it would be Coach Summers, then Coach Fleming and Coach Callahan.
"I'd have real good talks with Coach Summers. He'd always ask about my grades. I've more recently gotten to know Coach Fleming. He's a cool guy. Coach Callahan has been there for a while talking to me. I met Coach Winter today. We're kind of alike. He's a crazy guy and I'm pretty crazy too. It was cool meeting him."
He says the UCF coaches told him they love his aggressiveness on the field.
"They like how I play," Berman said. "I'm real physical. I just want to kind of kill people. They like how I play the game nasty and the way I use my hands, stuff like that. When you're playing against me, you know I'm going to hit you pretty hard. That's what I'm known for."
His future position will be at weakside linebacker.
"They said they're pretty low on will," Berman said. "They think I can come in and make an immediate impact. That's what they were telling me. I liked what I was hearing."
Berman is always around the ball having recorded 128 tackles during his junior season.
"I was the defensive MVP and overall MVP of the team," he said. "I had 26 tackles in one game which broke the school record."
His records extend into the team's weight room.
"A couple weeks ago I broke the bench press record at 370 and I've also got a 320 power clean," Berman said.
His favorite football player is Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.
"I like him because he's mean, scary and likes to kill people," Berman said.
As a member of the Class of 2013, Berman will be part of UCF's inaugural Big East recruiting class. That was another appealing factor.
"It's real exciting," Berman said. "That's what made me like UCF even more is when I found out they're going to the Big East for my freshman year. They're ready to play for national championships. That came into my mind. I'm ready to go play in the Orange Bowl."
Berman becomes UCF's eighth commitment, the fourth on defense and the first linebacker.
"(DE commit) Seyvon Lowry was visiting too so we talked a little bit," Berman said. "Right when I committed, he came in the room after. That was pretty cool."
Berman, who is thinking about an education-related major, also drew interest from USF, FAU, FIU, Syracuse, Minnesota and Western Kentucky.
"I'm glad it's over," he said. "This is a big relief. Now I can focus on my high school team now that I've got recruiting out of the way."
He's expecting a big season for Barron Collier.
"We should be looking real good this year," Berman said. "We've got 10 starters returning from a defense that was pretty good. We just installed a new offense, the Wing-T, so I should play fullback and linebacker. We'll see how that goes. I'm expecting to go pretty deep in the playoffs."
Berman says he's planning to return to Orlando for UCF's big home game on Sept. 29 against Missouri.
Video: Jake Berman highlights
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