Berry wins SEC honor

Tennessee sophomore safety Eric Berry was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, the organization announced Monday. He is one of just five sophomores to be named first-team All-SEC.

Berry is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions and also broke UT and SEC records for interception return yards in a season with 265. His 222 interception return yards from 2007 allowed him to also take possession of the UT and SEC career records in that category. He enters next season just 14 yards shy of the major college career record of 501 interception return yards set by Florida State's Terrell Buckley from 1989-91.

The Fairburn, Ga., native finished the 2008 season third on the UT team with 72 tackles while breaking up six passes in addition to his seven picks. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns and also posted 8.5 tackles for loss.

"I am extremely proud for Eric and this honor is well deserved," coach Phillip Fulmer said. "Eric is a great football player and outstanding student, but his greatest attribute is he is a great person and leader. He is an example for our university and for what is good about college football."

Berry has already had All-America honors bestowed upon him by the American Football Coaches Association. He was just one of four sophomores named to that team last week. He twice was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week during the season, earning recognition after both the Mississippi State and Vanderbilt games for his record-breaking returns.

Berry is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which will be given to the nation's top defensive back Thursday in Orlando, Fla., and was a semifinalist for the Lott Trophy and Bednarik Award.

Two other Vols also earned acclaim from the AP. Both seniors, offensive lineman Anthony Parker and defensive end Robert Ayers were selected second-team all-conference.

Ayers was sixth on the team with 49 tackles but led all Vols with 15.5 tackles for loss. He also registered his first career interception at Georgia. Parker started all 12 games on the offensive line, six at each of the guard positions.

2008 Associated Press All-SEC Team

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tim Tebow, Florida

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Eric Berry, Tennessee

COACH OF THE YEAR

Nick Saban, Alabama

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Julio Jones, Alabama

FIRST TEAM

Offense WR - Brandon LaFell, LSU, 6-3, 209, Jr.

WR - A.J. Green, Georgia, 6-4, 200, Fr.

L - Michael Oher, Mississippi, 6-5, 318, Sr.

L - Andre Smith, Alabama, 6-5, 330, Jr.

L - Phil Trautwein, Florida, 6-6, 310, Sr.

L - Clint Boling, Georgia, 6-5, 286, So.

L - Herman Johnson, LSU, 6-7, 375, Sr.

C - Antoine Caldwell, Alabama, 6-3, 305, Sr.

TE - D.J. Williams, Arkansas, 6-2, 250, So.

QB - Tim Tebow, Florida, 6-3, 240, Jr.

RB - Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, 5-11, 208, So.

RB - Glen Coffee, Alabama, 6-1, 198, Jr.

K - Joshua Shene, Mississippi, 5-8, 170, Jr.

All-Purpose - Percy Harvin, Florida, 5-11, 195, Jr.

Defense

E - Rahim Alem, LSU, 6-3, 254, Jr.

E - Antonio Coleman, Auburn, 6-3, 250, Jr.

T - Terrence Cody, Alabama, 6-5, 365, Jr.

T - Peria Jerry, Mississippi, 6-2, 290, Sr.

LB - Brandon Spikes, Florida, 6-3, 245, Jr.

LB - Rolando McClain, Alabama, 6-4, 249, So.

LB - Eric Norwood, South Carolina, 6-1, 253, Jr.

CB - Trevard Lindley, Kentucky, 6-0, 175, Jr.

CB - D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt, 5-10, 182, Jr.

S - Rashad Johnson, Alabama, 6-0, 186, Sr.

S - Eric Berry, Tennessee, 5-11, 195, So.

P - Tim Masthay, Kentucky, 6-2, 203, Sr.

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