Weight: 301 pounds
Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
Before Penn State: Van Den Berg didn’t have a conventional path to Happy Valley. Born in Johannesburg, van den Berg never played American football until his sophomore year of high school. Once he started, however, he took to the game well. He lettered three years at Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn, Georgia, then played at Iowa Western Community College in the spring of 2021. Van den Berg played eight games for Iowa Western and helped the team to an 8-1 record, finishing the year with 13 tackles, one sack and four tackles for loss, becoming a first-team junior college All-American. He committed to Penn State that June.
2021: Van den Berg redshirted his first season at Penn State but did play four games, finishing the year with six tackles (four solo), two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. He made his Penn State debut in Week 2 against Ball State. Against Maryland, he picked up his first Penn State sack and forced fumble on the same play in the fourth quarter of Penn State’s 31-14 win. Van den Berg’s most significant sample size was at the Outback Bowl against Arkansas, when he received an extended look thanks primarily to starting defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo opting out. Van den Berg finished the Outback Bowl with five total tackles (three solo) and a tackle for loss.
2022: Van den berg played in all 13 of Penn State’s games, finishing the season with nine tackles (four solo) and 1.5 sacks. He also picked up two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble against Maryland.
Where he stands: Van Den Berg is expected to remain a reserve defensive lineman in Year 3, but the Athletic’s Bruce Feldman had him as No. 15 of his list of 101 freaks.
“This offseason, he benched 455, cleaned 380 and back-squatted 690,” Feldman wrote, “but it’s the combination of the strength with his agility numbers that forced his way onto the list.”
Feldman noted than Van Den Berg ran a 4.74 40-yard dash and “his shuttle time of 4.20, might be even more impressive.”
“He also vertical jumped 31 inches and broad-jumped 9-2,” Feldman wrote.
A quote by Van den berg: “It was a quick turnaround but I was ready for it.” — Van den berg
A quote about Van den berg: It’s just constant. Some guys, later in the series, you can see they’re kind of tired and they might not chase them ball down, chase the running back down, whatever it may be. But he’s just 100 miles an hour. If he’s on the field, he’s going 100 miles an hour for sure.” — Penn State OL Landon Tengwall