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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 1

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 1 21 his search committee and search firm pored over candidates for a job that'll be asked to help turn Pur- due football's current state. Years earlier, the reasons Berghoff chose Purdue and decided to give football a try were relatively con- sistent with walk-ons everywhere. "I walked on because I completed my senior year in high school unsatisfied with my football career," said Berghoff, who originally planned to play football at Wabash College. "I was a late bloomer in high school and my best year was my senior year, and I thought I wanted a little more. It was largely because I matured physically that gave me any inkling to try to compete at the major college level." That desire also festered because of a love of weight-lifting. But it was the people he met in the gym that played a role in his thought process of suit- ing up at Purdue. "I actually was introduced to weight-lifting by our basketball coach and by (former Indianapolis Colts strength coach) Tom Zupancic. At that point in his career, Tom would go around the region doing weight-lifting exhibitions that included things like tying a rope around his waist to pull a vehicle. He was a showman and an early force in weight lifting, and was able to get me and others fired up about it." Berghoff was 135 pounds as a high school fresh- man but "grew" 55 pounds before his playing days at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger were complete. Still, it was a "real Boilermaker legend," as Ber- ghoff puts it, who closed the deal on him giving col- lege football a go. "I remember working out with Rosie Barnes who saw me in the weight room and talked Purdue up," he said. Barnes, a three-sport Boilermaker standout who spent several years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, was a big name in Fort Wayne at the time, and still is. "Rosie started working out with us after he had just completed his bonus fifth (and only) year in foot- ball (in 1981)," Berghoff said. "He started working out in Fort Wayne and we were all wildly impressed. All it took was Rosie saying, 'You ought to go to Pur- due and try out.'" And the following spring, Berghoff did just that. After enrolling late, too late to play football during the '81 season, he bulked up a bit more. But by '82 and after his "discussion" with Barnes, he was listed at 204 pounds and issued Jersey No. 54. He joined the linebacker corps with standouts like Brock Spack and Mark Brown, and a fellow walk-on named Jim McKenzie. McKenzie's identical twin brother, John, was on the team, as well. John was moved to linebacker sole- ly because defensive ends coach Mike Hankwitz and linebackers coach Lee Larkins couldn't tell Jim and John apart, part of the reason Jim struck up a close friendship with Berghoff. "Mike was always having fun, but always working hard," Jim McKenzie said. "He was a hard hitter, but he also had an important ability to know how to not get yourself killed on the practice field. "I knew then his survival instinct would serve him well." Berghoff and McKenzie have stayed in touch over the years. Both have been involved with the Boiler Business Exchange in Indianapolis, a networking group that helps Purdue grads spread their influence. Berghoff's company, Lenex Steel, and McKenzie's work with brother John in the restaurant and con- struction business has allowed them to run in the same social circles, as has having kids the same age. "Jim and I built a bond playing for a guy like Coach Larkins," Berghoff joked. "He was a pistol. He was a screamer. I didn't have a coach quite like that in high school. "We walked into a collection of guys who were pas- sionate about the program. The attraction for me was to be highly challenged both physically and mentally. … And try to cope with the coaches. "The football experience definitely opened my eyes in a couple of areas. First, to a wide variety of styles of achieving success. It wasn't easy. In fact, it was hard. You had to get up in the morning whether you were beat up or not and get after it. It made me appreciate people that really do heavy lifting." Berghoff ponders that notion often, especially with the people that have hard, physical jobs in and around Lenex Steel. "I can relate, things are hard and you have to keep moving on," Berghoff said. "We have a production fa- cility in Vincennes and it has 75-100 production peo- ple and they show up at 6:30 a.m. and do heavy lifting work every day. I have respect for that."

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