Jordan Berry, who is 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds, looks indestructible wearing his green Harbor City Narbonne High football helmet while protected by shoulder pads and knee pads. He’s usually the one inflicting punishment on smaller, weaker opponents from his defensive tackle position.
So imagine how his mother, Shenae, felt last fall during a state playoff game when she discovered it was her son laying motionless on the ground as emergency personnel worked to determine the extent of his injury.
“I was terrified,” she said.
She came down from the bleachers at San Diego Cathedral Catholic High, walked toward the end zone and waited to see her son. Coach Manuel Douglas called to say he’d be OK and it was protocol to call an ambulance because he was suffering from a possible concussion and neck sprain.
“I hit the dude, fell to the ground ... it was head-to-head contact,” Berry said.
He had briefly lost consciousness and was transported to the hospital.
“I can’t see where my mom was and I’m a momma’s boy,” he said. “I got to the hospital and she wasn’t there. It was very scary being there by myself.”
Berry spent four days hospitalized for observation to make sure his blood pressure was under control. Narbonne lost the playoff game 24-21. Berry’s mom later wondered about the wisdom of her son playing football.
“I wanted him to say, ‘Let’s take senior year off.’ You have 10 scholarship offers,” she said.
“Mom, I can’t,” her son answered.
“I could say, Jordan, you’re not going to play, but at the end of the day, it’s up to him,” she said.
Berry, who committed to Louisiana State, said his scare last fall taught him to be more serious.
“It makes me pay attention,” he said. “It makes me open my eyes more.”
His size in the middle of the line makes opponents take note. He’s among the top linemen in the Southland.
“He occupies double teams,” Douglas said. “He’s one of those unsung players. Linebackers are making plays because of him.”
Giving up football would be difficult for Berry, who has been playing the sport since he was 5. He used to be skinny. Then came his growth spurt, including size-14 feet. If football doesn’t work out, he said he might become a defense lawyer because he considers himself a good talker.
“You better come with a good argument. I’m a great debater,” he said.
Asked to debate himself, he said, “Jordan Berry is good but can be greater than he is today. I’m very talented but can work harder. I move fast but can move faster. I have good hand coordination but can work harder.”
Berry attended L.A. Hawkins High as a freshman, then left when the coaching staff was fired. He has been primarily raised by his mother and grandmother, Gloria.
“We come from a well-grounded family,” his mother said. “You can say I’m like the FBI. I’m always on full investigation. I need to know friends. I need to know parents. I just instilled for him our values.”
Asked how she makes her son know right from wrong, she said, “He’s a tennis shoe freak. He loves tennis shoes. There’s no shoe under $200. There’s going to be no tennis shoes. There’s going to be no iPhone. There’s going to be no PlayStation. In the millennial generation, you take away things.”
In the end, the Berrys are united in seeking a better future through football.
Top defensive linemen
Player, School | Ht. | Wt. | Yr. | Comment
Tusi Adams, Palos Verdes | 6-3 | 290 | Sr. | Had nine tackles for losses
Jordan Berry, Narbonne | 6-4 | 315 | Sr. | Louisiana State commit is tough to move out of the middle
Korey Foreman, Corona Centennial | 6-4 | 245 | Jr. | Let’s see who can block him
Ja’Quez Harvey, Locke | 6-4 | 245 | Jr. | So athletic that he’s also playing quarterback
Lance Keneley, Mission Viejo | 6-5 | 247 | Sr. | Relentless pass rusher
Kobe Pepe, St. John Bosco | 6-2 | 270 | Sr. | USC commit had 68 tackles
Anthony Ruvalcaba, Garfield | 6-4 | 230 | Sr. | Had 18 sacks
Jake Shipley, Shadow Hills | 6-3 | 270 | Sr. | Oregon commit has lots of strength
Tuli Tuipulotu, Lawndale | 6-2 | 220 | Sr. | Had nine sacks for 14-2 team
Soane Toia, Grace Brethren | 6-1 | 275 | Sr. | Recorded 11.5 sacks