by Mike Magers
Ray Berry was born in Lovington, New Mexico in 1963. His family later moved to Abilene. Ray went on to graduate from Abilene Cooper High School in Texas where he was an outstanding linebacker on the Cougar football team. Ray was named as a Parade Magazine High School All-American after his senior season and ultimately signed to play college ball with Baylor University in Waco.
For a while, Berry had also lived not far from the Oklahoma University campus in Norman, Oklahoma. He and his family were football fans and attended as many games as they could before relocating to Abilene. Ray had initially been recruited by the Aggies and was on his way to receiving a scholarship offer from Texas A&M until a coaching change resulted in his scholarship offer getting mislaid. His father Powell had played for the Aggies under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. His older brother had played football for the Aggies and his younger brother would extend the tradition by becoming a “12th Man” walk-on special teams player, but in Ray’s case, the Aggies’ loss was definitely the Bears’ gain.
At Baylor, Berry was a four year starter under Coach Grant Teaff, following in the footsteps of the former Baylor and NFL great Mike Singletary. At Baylor he was an outstanding player and still ranks high on several defensive lists, as follows: total tackles (No. 2, 380), solo tackles (No. 3, 231), assisted tackles (No. 3, 149) and sacks (No. 9, 9). His honors at Baylor include being named to the Hall of Honor in 2005. He was also named a Baylor Football Legend the following year and was named to Baylor’s all decade team for the years 1980-1989.
Ray has said that he did not consider pursuing a pro football career until after his senior season at Baylor. Based on his outstanding achievements at Baylor, he was a second round pick (44th overall) by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1987 NFL Draft. He would go on to play for six seasons with the Vikings, followed by a seventh season with Seattle. He played in 89 games, 82 with the Vikings and 7 with the Seahawks.
Ray Berry, third from the left.
(image credit: reporter news.com)
After his retirement from the NFL, Berry returned to Abilene where he joined the family crude oil marketing business. He now works with his mother and two brothers in the company started by his late father in 1981.