By Genesis Leggett, Viking Fusion Contributor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. — On April 25, Mason Kinsey, a senior from Demorest, Georgia, signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans, becoming the first Berry football player to sign with an NFL franchise.
The wide receiver had a lucrative career with the Berry football team, earning numerous accolades, including three All-Conference First-Team honors and a D3football.com Third-Team All-American recognition. Kinsey led the Southern Athletic Association in all major receiving categories this past year and ranked top-15 in the NCAA Division III.
Berry is a small liberal arts college, with an enrollment of about 2,000. The odds of an NCAA collegiate athlete entering the pros after leaving college across all sports is only 2% (NCAA.org). This percentage dwindles down to less than nothing at the Division III level.
Despite the odds, Berry has had several standout athletes exit the Gate of Opportunity and enter a professional athletic career.
The Berry College men’s soccer program has had several Vikings join professional teams after their time at Berry.
In 2016, Berry College alumnus Mark Bloom (10c) competed for the Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup as a member of Toronto FC. He began his professional career as a defender for the AC St. Louis of the USSF Division 2 Professional League. He then moved on to join the two other teams before landing back in Georgia with the Atlanta United FC.
Shane Moroney (11c) enjoyed three seasons playing professional soccer as a Defender with the Atlanta Silverbacks in the North American Soccer League (NASL).
Justin Smith (12c) played for the FC Jacksonville Destroyers, A PDL team in Florida. He played as a left midfielder.
Josh Hughes (14c) is currently playing as a midfielder for the Richmond Kickers, which is a part of the USL League One soccer league. Hughes began his career after Berry and signed his first contract with the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks. Since then he has also spent time with Forest City London, MASL side Baltimore Blast, and Nashville SC.
Mike Davis (11c), Daniel Wartner (12c), and Jan Weeg (11c) were also able to enjoy professional careers on the pitch after their time at Berry.
The Berry men’s basketball team has also sent one of their own into the world of professional sports.
Elijah Hirsh (19c), a Woodstock, Ga. native, signed a two-year professional basketball deal with Israel’s Elitzur Kiryat Ata after the completion of his college career. The club competes in Liga Leumit, one of the top Israeli basketball leagues and a member of FIBA Europe.
Hirsh dominated the boards as Berry’s number one big man. In 2019, he became the first Berry men’s basketball player to earn the SAA Player of the Year award. He ranked second in the SAA with 17.5 points per game and led the league with 9.2 rebounds per contest. He ended his senior season with 455 points and 240 rebounds, ranking him third in Berry’s NCAA DIII era record book for points and boards in a single season.
Berry College baseball has sent over 30 alumni to professional baseball organizations with the first dating back to 1965, when Donald Arp was drafted to the Kansas City Athletics organization in the 17th round.
Most recently, Dylan Beasley (19c) was drafted to the Washington Nationals in the 32nd round. Beasley was the first Viking to be drafted in the program’s NCAA Division III era.
Collin McHugh (09c), another Berry standout, was drafted out of Berry College by the New York Mets in the 18th round of the 2008 draft after spending three seasons pitching for the Vikings. Once a pro, McHugh showed off his talents for 15 different major and minor league teams before landing in the Houston Astros’ rotation.
In 2017, McHugh helped guide the Astros to the team’s first World Series Championship. In his final season with the Astros, McHugh appeared in 35 games (8 starts) while recording 82 strikeouts in 74 and two-third innings with a 4.70 ERA and a 4-5 record.
This past March, McHugh signed a one year contract with the Boston Red Sox.
Below is a list of the other Berry baseballers that headed to the pros after their Viking careers.
*Active players in bold
|Drafted/Signed||Player||MLB Franchise/Team||Round||Seasons Played|
|2019||Dylan Beasley, RHP||Washington Nationals||32nd||Current|
|2014||Stephen Gaylor, OF||Atlanta Braves||FA||2014|
|2013||Levi Austin – RHP||Independent||FA||2013|
|2010||Chris Rearick – LHP||Tampa Bay||41st||2010-2012|
|2008||Collin McHugh – RHP||New York Mets||18th||2008-2013|
|Houston Astros (WS Champion)||2014-2019|
|2008||Jeremy Cameron – LHP||Independent||FA||2008|
|2005||Palmer Karr – OF||Independent||FA||2005-2014|
|2005||Nate Mosteller – LHP||Independent||FA||2005|
|2004||Travis Hope – RHP||New York Mets||FA||2004-2006|
|2004||Chuck Smith – RHP||New York Mets||FA||2004-2006|
|2003||Troy Fry – RHP||New York Mets||24th||2003-2005|
|2003||Josh Beshears – RHP||Independent||FA||2003-2006|
|2001||Jeremy Maddox – 3B/1B||Tampa Bay||FA||2001|
|2000||Steve Luke – LHP||Independent||FA||2000|
|1999||Mike Sabens – RHP||Pittsburg Pirates||33rd||1999-2001|
|1999||Josh Hopper – LHP||New York Mets||FA||1999-2000|
|1998||Shane Smith – 2B||Independent||FA||1998|
|1997||Aaron Gentry – SS||St. Louis Cardinals||12th||1997-1999|
|1997||Brad Bohannon – INF/OF||Independent||FA||1997-1998|
|1997||Chad Parker – INF||Independent||FA||1997|
|1997||Chad Overton – 1B||Independent||FA||1997-1998|
|1997||Chris Knight – RHP||Independent||FA||1997-1998|
|1997||Todd Tripp – RHP||Independent||FA||1997|
|1996||Walter Crane – OF||Independent||FA||1996|
|1995||Walker Reynolds – RHP||Atlanta Braves||41st||1995|
|1993||Chance Cain – RHP||St. Louis Cardinals||40th||1993-1995|
|1993||Matt Matvey – SS||St. Louis Cardinals||32nd||1993-1997|
|1993||Jason Adams – OF||New York Mets||FA||1993-1994|
|1972||Larry Bing – LHP||Atlanta Braves||FA||1972-1973|
|1972||James DeBruhl – LHP||Atlanta Braves||FA||1972-1974|
|1969||Kenny Davis||San Diego Padres||FA||1969|
|1969||Gerry Law – OF/1B||San Diego Padres||FA||1969|
|1965||Donald Arp||KC Athletics||17th||n/a|
Berry College may be small, but from the names listed above we can see that no dream has proven to be too out of reach for its students.