Berry Very Good

Eric Berry

To appreciate just how good a football prospect Eric Berry of Fairburn, Ga., is, consider that he's rated the nation's No. 1 cornerback by Scout.com despite the fact he's never played the position in a game.

"It's kind of crazy to tell you the truth," the personable Berry told Inside Tennessee this week. "I know how to play corner. Most of the time when I go to camp I go to cornerback because I want to compete over there. I want direct competition against the top athletes."

The 6-foot, 194-pound athlete is a two-way starter for the Creekside High School Seminoles, playing quarterback and safety. However his ideal size, blazing 4.35 speed and incredible quickness perfectly fit the requirements of a shutdown corner, which has led many to conclude that will be his best position on the next level.

However after watching many game tapes and seeing Berry perform in live competition, the Tennessee coaching staff has reached a different conclusion.

"I think I could play whatever they need me to play," he said matter-of-factly. "Right now Tennessee is recruiting me as an athlete but they want me to try quarterback first. That's what their plans are."

Eric Berry may not have the prototypical height to play a drop-back signal caller in a pro system, but he's so dangerous with the ball in his hands that it does make sense to take a long look at him there.

As a junior, Berry compiled over 2,000 yards rushing and passing while scoring 22 touchdowns. He's ahead of that pace this season with over 1,300 yards,17 TDs and an INT through six games in which the Seminoles are undefeated and one of the state's top Class 4A teams.

What's more remarkable than the statistics he has amassed through six games this season is his dazzling diversity. In addition to throwing and running TDs, Berry has scored on a punt return, an interception return, a return of a missed field goal and he caught a TD pass.

"I have great speed and awareness and can play any position," Berry told Scout.com. "I have a good combination of finesse and power and I like to do it all. Because I play both ways I'd like to improve my stamina and get into even better shape."

Berry certainly has plenty of power as underscored by his 325-pound bench press and 560-pound squat. That translates to 175 percent of his body weight in the bench and nearly three times his body weight in the squat. In other words: it would be like a 330-pound lineman squatting a half a ton. Throw in Berry's 38-inch vertical leap and it's easy to see why he is one of the most sought after athletes in America.

From over 50 offers Berry, who was named to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this week, has trimmed his list of finalists to five — Auburn, Ohio State, Tennessee, Georgia and USC. He took an unofficial visit to Knoxville for the UT-Florida game with his father, James, a former Parade All-American from Natchez, Miss., who signed with Tennessee as part of Johnny Majors' first recruiting class. James Berry started at tailback for the Vols three years (1979-1981) and led UT in rushing twice.

Eric made an unofficial visit to Athens for the Tennessee game last Saturday, and he hopes to attend one more game in Knoxville before taking an official visit to UT after Creekside's season concludes.

The Vols would love nothing more than to add this legacy to their Class of 2007.

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