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.

Soccer

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.

Basketball

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During the 2019-2020 season, Hirsh averaged 6.0 points in 13.7 minutes per game for Elitzur Kiryat Ata (Photo courtesy of Elijah Hirsh)

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.

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Hirsh was a member of the 2018 SAA championship team (Photo courtesy of Berry Athletics)

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.

Baseball

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.

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Beasley ended the 2019 season with the Auburn Doubledays, the Class A short season affiliate of the Washington Nationals (Photo courtesy of Berry Athletics)

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.

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McHugh has 770 career strikeouts over the course of his major league career (Photo courtesy of Berry Athletics)

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
San Diego 2013-2014
2008 Collin McHugh – RHP New York Mets 18th 2008-2013
Colorado Rockies 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
Independent FA 2007-2008
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
Independent FA 2002
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
Independent FA 1996-1997
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.

Related:

“I’m trying to prove a point to all 31 other teams that they made a mistake”

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