Stanley Berryhill III '17 Signs With Atlanta Falcons

For Stanley Berryhill III, his journey to the NFL was not at all how he envisioned. But the Orange Lutheran alumnus would probably say that through all the ups and downs, it happened just the way it was supposed to.

 

Berryhill ‘17 is the third Lancer in school history to reach football’s highest level (Aaron Corp ’07, Austin Pettis ’07), and the wide receiver did so by signing with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent last weekend at the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft.

 

But before he made it to this pinnacle of his playing career, Berryhill was a senior transfer student at OLu, a decision he credits with uniquely preparing him for college and beyond.

 

As a Tucson native, Berryhill had been a University of Arizona fan for as long as he could remember and grew up wanting to play football for the Wildcats. The dual sport athlete (football and baseball) was not highly recruited during high school, so when a family friend introduced him to OLu, he made the tough decision to leave home for his senior year and become a Lancer in hopes of receiving more exposure.

 

Arriving on campus, Berryhill was in unfamiliar territory. But once the school year started, the OLu community welcomed him with open arms.

 

“OLu accepted me,” said Berryhill. “It was hard being away from family and being in a new environment, somewhere I’d never been before. But it was great. OLu is one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in my life.”

 

Playing alongside and against some of the top football talent in the country through the Trinity League did bring increased looks for Berryhill, and over the course of his senior season, he had conversations with several colleges, including some from the Pac-12.

 

But none of those conversations materialized into offers, with the exception of a preferred walk-on opportunity at Arizona State University. Right before he planned to accept the offer from the Sun Devils, he was contacted by U of A, who also offered him a walk-on spot. Berryhill accepted the offer from his dream school on the spot, with the hopes of earning a scholarship.

 

As he began his freshman year, Berryhill soon realized that attending OLu prepared him for the next level, both academically and athletically. Practice structures and block schedules were already familiar formats.

 

“I didn’t see it back then, but being at OLu…it was like a prep year for me before I went to college,” said Berryhill. “I tell people all the time, going (to OLu) my senior year got me ready for college and helped me excel in college.”

 

After a solid freshman season on the gridiron for the Wildcats, Berryhill did receive that football scholarship at the beginning of his sophomore year, which was a “dream come true.” But his playing career at U of A was not always smooth. Coaching changes, Covid and significant time on the bench were all part of navigating the college football landscape.

 

“I went back to facing a lot of adversity while I was at U of A, playing wise, not getting as much playing time as people thought I deserved,” said Berryhill. “But my whole thing was just making the most of my opportunities whenever my name was called.”

 

And that he did. By the time Berryhill reached his senior season in the fall of 2021, and with a new coaching staff in place, the team captain earned a starting wide receiver spot and saw significant minutes on special teams.

 

With one year of eligibility still remaining, the 23-year old decided the time was right to continue chasing his dreams and declare for the 2022 NFL Draft.

 

“My whole thought process was that I had a really good year, and I’m pretty old as it is,” said Berryhill. “If there was no Covid, I wouldn’t have another year, so I feel like I’m old enough and mature enough.”

 

Focused and determined, Berryhill turned heads with his standout performances at the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl in early February, as well as Arizona’s Pro Day.

 

In speaking with him ahead of the Draft, Berryhill was not sure where the process would take him. But in signing with Atlanta, he will now have the opportunity to show a new group of people the grit and perseverance that have played such key roles in his journey to this point.

 

“Excited to be a @AtlantaFalcons,” Berryhill tweeted after making it official with the pro club.

 

In reflecting back on his playing career thus far, Berryhill remains grateful for his time at OLu, acknowledging how the entire Lancer community, beyond athletics, left an indelible mark on his life.

 

“My favorite thing about OLu was Praise and Prayer on Thursdays,” said Berryhill. “It was a culture shock to see so many students and faculty members so involved in things like that. And going to all the volleyball games and the basketball games…I’ve never seen a community be so backed up behind the school. It changed my life for sure. I’ll thank OLu forever.”

 

With his bachelors degree in education complete, and his masters degree in progress, Berryhill’s future plans after his playing days come to a close include giving back through teaching, coaching and education administration. He remains connected with OLu by actively following and supporting the Lancers through social media and hopes to make it back to campus in the future for Homecoming.

 

If circumstances had been different, Berryhill would have wanted to be a Lancer for four years instead of just one. But it was one year he wouldn’t trade for the world.

 

“Whether it was my teammates welcoming me into their homes with open arms, they all had a big impact on my life, whether they know it or not,” said Berryhill. “Even the teachers and the faculty members. I’ll never forget it, and I’ll always cherish my time at OLu.”

 

Update

After being waived by the Falcons prior to the season, Berryhill caught on with the Detroit Lions.  On October 27, he was activated on the active roster.  He will make his NFL debut on Sunday, October 30 when the Lions take on the Dolphins.

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