San Diego State senior safety Nat Berhe is no stranger to awards.
As a sophomore, Berhe was a Mountain West honorable-mention pick in 2011 after recording 67 tackles, two interceptions and five pass breakups.
As a sophomore in 2012, he was named a second-team All-MW performer after leading SDSU with 94 total tackles and hauling in two interceptions to help lead the Aztecs to a 39th ranking nationally in total defense.
In his final season on Montezuma Mesa, Berhe was the only Aztec named to the MW Football All-Conference First Team after totaling 99 tackles, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. He was also named Team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. He is the first Aztec safety in the MW era to earn all-conference accolades in three consecutive seasons.
Berhe credits his versatility for helping him reach those accomplishments.
“I played Aztec position, the old Lobo that Brian Urlacher played,” he explained. “I’ve played a lot in the back, split out to the edge, played in the nickel, swooped me out at corner, played deep middle. I was kind of a jack of all trades.”
Fast forward two months after Berhe’s last game in an Aztec uniform - a 49-24 win over the University of Buffalo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – he is in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine hoping to prove he is deserving of a draft pick, and ultimately, a roster spot.
Berhe came into the Combine with most “experts” predicting him as a Day Three pick. So how did he perform on the field? Fairly well, posting 15 reps on the bench press, leaping 35.5 inches on the vertical jump and reaching 117.0 inches on the broad jump. He did, unfortunately, run a 4.71 40-yard dash, the lowest time of any defensive back, although NFL Network had an unofficial time of 4.59 which is considerably better.
Still, he rarely lets a receiver behind him, which results in less big plays for the opposition. While he only had five interceptions in his career at SDSU, he has the hands to haul in passes thrown in his vicinity.
Though he is a bit undersized, Berhe doesn’t believe his 5-10, 193-pound frame is a hindrance.
“In 51 games of my career I never turned down anything,” he said. “My height has never been an issue. My size has never been an issue. I don’t think it will be an issue at the next level either… Football is a game of leverage and I play with great leverage. I stay low. I was able to play five yards in the box and make a ton of plays. Getting off guards and tackles has never been an issue for me.”
Berhe is regarded as one of the best tacklers in the country, registering at least 90 tackles in each of the past two seasons. Scouts and analysts say has a knack for the ball and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
The safety also has ties to the Chargers. He went up against