Very few people had the amazing three years Eric Berry had for Tennessee football. He was a two-time All-American and should have been a three-time Thorpe Award winner. Berry showed just how great he could be immediately with the Vols.
A five-star safety commit who was a legacy guy, Berry proved immediately he was a complete player. However, Phillip Fulmer and John Chavis did not start him in the season-opening loss to the California Golden Bears. They didn’t make that mistake again. Immediately after becoming the starter, Berry made an impact, starting with a pick-six against Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators.
Throughout the year, Berry became an incredible playmaker at safety. His ball-hawking abilities made him basically an offensive weapon. For the season, he had 86 total tackles, two tackles for a loss and five interceptions. Oh, and he averaged an amazing 44.4 yards per return on those interceptions.
It’s also worth noting Berry recovered two fumbles. And his seven defensive returns overall resulted in five touchdowns. Simply put, he was an elite playmaker all year and earned Freshman All-American honors and SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Berry’s play is probably the biggest reason the Vols won the SEC East. He was an incredible defensive weapon and a rare talent as a freshman on Rocky Top. The crazy part was how much better he got even after this year.