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RTT#1 Eric Berry: reviewing the class of 2007

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All right, y'all. Buckle up. RTT#1 Eric Berry up next. First, the initial profile:

Crib notes on Berry's Getting to Know You piece, bullet-style:

  • Offered a scholarship to Georgia while a sophomore in high school.
  • Ran a 4.33 electronically-timed 40 yard dash with a heavy cast on his wrist.
  • Son of former Vol and former Dallas Cowboy James Berry.
  • Was apparently instrumental in recruiting Ben Martin and Chris Donald to Tennessee as well.

With his talent, Berry would likely have played early and well anyway, but the fact that the secondary had been decimated by the draft, the diploma, and the doghouse made it a foregone conclusion. Berry started every single game, including his very first as a true freshman, somewhere in the secondary. He primarily played at safety, but, for the first and third games anyway, he played as a cornerback. In his 14 games, Berry racked up 86 total tackles (57 solo), four passes defended, one fumble forced, two fumbles returned for 55 yards, and five interceptions returned for 222 yards and one touchdown. Best of all, he generally had his best games against the best competition. That's, um, workin' like heck right there.

#
Int. Ret.
Fum. Ret.
Pts
Tackles
Pass.
Def'd
For'd
Fum.
No
Yds
TD
No
Yds
TD
TTL
TDs
Ast
Solo
Asst
Loss
Solo
Loss
Loss
Yds
14
5
222
1
2
55
0
1
6
29
57
0
2
3
4
1

 

Opponent
Int. Ret.
Fum. Ret.
Tackles
Pass.
Def.
Fum. For'd
 
No
Yds
TD
No
Yds
TD
TTL
TDs
Ast
Solo
Asst
Loss
Solo
Loss
California
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
3
0
0
0
0
Southern Miss.
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
3
0
0
0
0
Florida
1
96
1
0
0
0
1
1
2
0
0
0
0
Arkansas St.
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
0
0
0
0
Georgia
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
0
0
0
0
Mississippi St.
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
4
0
0
0
0
Alabama
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
0
1
0
0
South Carolina
1
13
0
1
52
0
0
2
10
0
0
0
0
La.-Lafayette
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
4
0
0
1
0
Arkansas
2
98
0
0
0
0
0
2
4
0
0
0
0
Vanderbilt
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
Kentucky
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
7
7
0
0
1
0
LSU
1
15
0
1
3
0
0
2
5
0
1
1
0
Wisconsin
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
0
0
0
1
 
5
222
1
2
55
0
1
29
57
0
2
4
1


Do we have highlights? Oh, there are a few:

Is it me, or does it just feel like Berry's going to just keep running every time he gets his hand on the ball? Also, has Gary Danielson ever seen an interception that was not the receiver's fault? Just wondering.

My favorite part of Berry's highlight reel is where he pushes over the guy trying to block for him. Sorry, dude, 'ppreciate the effort, but hit somebody or get out of the way.

As Berry got better, he freed up the cornerbacks to play their men tighter, which made it much more difficult for opposing quarterbacks to find open receivers, which both gave our defensive line more time to pressure the QB and allowed John Chavis to mix up his blitzes and call them more often. Did you notice that we were getting more pressure on the quarterback toward the end of the season? I think that's primarily attributable to the improved secondary, which all stems from Berry. Berry, Berry, Berry.

He came into the program with such hype that he was practically destined to fail to live up to it. Instead, he not only met expectations, he exceeded them. Enjoy cheering for Eric Berry for the next two years, Vol fans, because that's probably all we have.