Q&A with Eric Berry

Eric Berry believes his early commitment to Tennessee helped the Vols as much as himself.

The athlete from Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga., committed to UT on Dec. 17 before he took an official visit Knoxville.

Berry, who signed to play football at UT in February, said his commitment helped influence recruits that were wavering over their decision.

Highly touted players such as Chris Donald, Ben Martin and Ahmad Paige chose UT after Berry's commitment.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Berry talked about helping the Vols' signing class and building a strong relationship with its members in this Q & A.

Q: What was your most memorable moment from visiting Tennessee?

A: It would be the Florida game (on Sept. 16). I came up unofficially for the Florida game. Tennessee had lost by one point. I was expecting the fans to be mad. I went to a game at another school and fans were booing after they lost. Tennessee fans were like, 'Keep your head up. We'll get them next time.' They were so positive about the outcome. That stood out to me. That's one of the things that sold me about Tennessee.

Q: What was your least favorite part of the recruiting process?

A: The text messaging part. People could text you as much as they want. When my bill went over $400 two months in a row, they couldn't step in and pay for it for those two months. That wasn't our fault the bill was like that. I was really upset and my mom was too.

Q: You made your commitment earlier than many people expected. Are you glad you did it then?

A: Yes. I think it also helped our recruiting class. A lot of people were on the fence. Did they want to go to Tennessee or who else was going to Tennessee? I took that step and said I was going to Tennessee. Forget about what everybody else said. That was a pretty good deal and I think it helped.

Q: Who has been the most influential person in your football career?

A: My dad. He gives me so much information behind the scenes. It's stuff you don't already know. You know you have to work hard and lift weights and run. He helps me with more of the mental aspects of the game. He tells me this happens in the game. He tells me about having a backup plan with my education. I pick up a lot and he's helped me a lot in my career.

Q: When did you know you would have a future in football?

A: When I was around 11 or 12 (years old). All the way up until I was 10 years old I was playing with an older class. I was playing in the graduation class of (2005). Everything seemed like it was moving faster when I was younger. Then I got with my age group and everything slowed down. I was like, 'Wow, I'm not supposed to be playing with these guys.'

Q: What was it like when you started playing with people your own age?

A: It felt like I had been training with grown men. I felt like I was so much faster and so much stronger. Playing with guys two or three years older gets you frustrated. It was kind of a relief also when I was playing with my age group.

Q: What are your short-term and long-term goals at UT?

A: I want to go in and make an immediate impact on the team and make plays and send the seniors out with a good season. I want to go in there and do what I have to to help them win. Long term, I would say put Tennessee back in that place where everybody wants to go to school there. I wouldn't say advertise exactly, but as far as our play, make people say, 'Man, Tennessee has some pretty good players.' I want to make people want to go to Tennessee.

Q: You and the members of your signing class have already built a strong relationship. How much do you think that will help when you arrive on campus at UT?

A: That's helped a lot. Most of us played in the Army All-American game (in San Antonio in January) together or against each other. We were hanging out and kicking it for a week. We all went to the spring game. We were all just hanging out up there. We went to a few parties and ate and hung out. We're like a family already. That will translate to the field too and only help us.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete?

A: Growing up it was Deion (Sanders). I like Pacman Jones -- on the field. Off the field he has character issues. On the field I love the way he plays. I like that attitude and swagger. I look at that a lot. A lot of people say you can't be scared on that island. They tell me to be confident and have a short-term memory.

Q: What is your proudest athletic moment?

A: My whole last season with my teammates. We played together since like kindergarten. It was our last year together. We made a big statement leaving a legacy at Creekside after being together so long. It hurt to leave but we're all moving on to bigger and better things. We'll always remember each other and we had a lot of fun.

© 2007 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.