NORMAN — Oklahoma's Kass Everett loves to make his father proud.
That's why the senior defensive back woke up Sunday morning and bought his dad a copy of The Oklahoman. Prominently displayed across the cover of the sports section was a photograph that captured Everett's impact on Oklahoma's win the night before: His helmet buried in West Virginia quarterback Paul Millard's back, a fumbled football hanging in the air and a defeated blocker's hand tugging on Everett's jersey from behind.
Everett's blindside blitz resulted in a forced fumble and the first sack of his OU career.
“For some time now, it's just been me and my dad,” Everett said. “Just getting a little opportunity to get on the field now is something that my dad is proud of. My birthday was on Friday, so he came out Saturday to come watch the game, and for me to make a play was definitely pleasing. He left around noon on Sunday and he had the paper.”
But Kasseim Berkley's biggest source of pride is the way his son fought his way back into college football after bad decisions cost him his first scholarship, forcing him to walk-on at a junior college and cram into a house with four times more residents than bedrooms.
“Football? I love it and I hope he does well,” Berkley said. “I'm glad about the newspaper. But being a responsible young man, being able to take care of yourself, being able to make good decisions … that's what I'm most proud of.”
Everett's college career began at the University of Delaware. He played some as a true freshman in 2009, but was suspended the entire next season for violating unspecified team rules.
Then in February 2011, Everett was arrested on suspicion of an “alcohol-related driving offense,” according to a local newspaper report, and dismissed from the team.
He considered quitting football, but decided to follow friend and fellow Philadelphia native Gerald Bowman — who now plays at USC — across the country to Pierce College in Los Angeles.
Taking the junior-college route can be humbling for any athlete with big dreams, but for Everett, he'd have to do it without a scholarship.
“I'm gonna tell you what, the determination I saw on his face when I put him on that plane, there was no doubt that he was gonna get another scholarship,” Berkley said.
Everett couldn't work because he was fully focused on grades and football, so in costly California, he took out a loan and lived in a three-bedroom house.
That might sound comfortable until you consider Everett's 13 roommates. He slept on an air mattress in the living room.
But all the while, he remained fully dedicated and focused on his goal of another football scholarship, and big schools started taking notice. He signed with Oklahoma in December 2011 and enrolled for the spring semester.
Playing time for the junior-college transfer didn't come like he'd hoped. He appeared sparingly in 11 games last season, recording just six tackles. Everett stayed positive, though, especially considering all he'd been through.
At least he had a scholarship and a bedroom in Norman.
“I can't be one of those guys who isn't fully engaged and bring everyone else down,” Everett said of his first year at OU. “I stayed positive. Of course, it was stressful. It got to me a little bit.”
Even so, Everett graduated last summer and is working on a master's degree in health care administration, with an eye on a medical consulting career.
“I know that's an experienced job, so I'll probably have to work from the bottom up,” said Everett, who knows all about that.
For now, though, he's working toward even more playing time in big moments. He said throughout winter workouts, spring practices and summer drills, he doubled his efforts because he knew this would be his last shot at big-time college football glory.
“Every rep that I do get is something I fight for,” Everett said. “Nothing is given to me, so every time you see me on that field, that's definitely a rep well earned.”