22 in 22: Sam Bergen

Sam Bergen

East Stroudsburg (Pa.) High linebacker Sam Bergen had an uneven prep career as he battled through a pair of major knee injuries. In the 14th piece of our "22 in 22" series featuring the incoming members of the 2010 class, Bergen talks about his expectations entering college, and why he is so excited to be a Scarlet Knight. Bergen also discusses the advantages of attendingg spring practice.

Sam Bergen played a few handfuls of games the last two seasons because of a pair of major knee injuries, so his level of hunger to get back on the field boarders on starvation.

So it makes sense the 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker from East Stroudsburg (Pa.) High is anxious, not to mention incredibly excited, to get his college career underway. Bergen moves in at Rutgers on June 27.

"Next day I have a summer class and everything,'' Bergen said. "It's only a few weeks. I can't wait.''

The unknown with Bergen is his knee. He was poised to be one of eastern Pennsylvania's top recruits in the 2010 class, but he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee as a junior and his recruitment tailed off.

He proved he was healthy early in the 2009 season and interest picked up, but three weeks after an early October commitment to Rutgers, he tore the ACL in his right knee. But Bergen's diligence and stick-to-itiveness has enabled him to rehab his knee without a setback, and he believes he will be ready well before August training camp begins.

Bergen is already familiar with Rutgers. He was a frequent visitor to spring practice, and went down once a week in February and March to work out at the Hale Center.

"I'm ready to go take advantage of what Rutgers has to offer,'' Bergen said, "as far as a training staff, and all the other advantages that come with being a Rutgers football player, like the weight training program, and all that other good stuff. I'm just really anxious to get down there and work that much harder.''

Bergen was selected to play in the Big 33 all-star game in Pennsylvania later this month, but he decided to bypass the event and give his knee more time to heal so he is ready to compete for a spot at Rutgers.

Whether he can earn playing time as a freshman there remains a question, although not a concern.

"I really haven't thought about it that much,'' Bergen said. "It's not my decision, but I'm going to do everything I can to play this year. I'm just going to work as hard as I can and keep doing what I'm doing and see what happens.''

Bergen made 78 tackles, including four sacks, in nine games as a senior. But his trips to Rutgers to watch practice quickly showed there will be a huge learning curve.

"I learned a lot,'' Bergen said. "It's definitely a lot faster than high school football, which I liked. It's definitely a high-energy practice. I just loved everything about it. There's still a lot I have to learn, but it definitely helped me a lot.

"This is completely different. Everyone there is good. I can't wait to be in that atmosphere the whole time because I know it will push me harder, and definitely make me a lot better as a football player. I'm really excited to get there.''

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