Berry leaving with Thorpe: 'I’m going to miss the fans'

The individual numbers may have been down. The votes were up.

Already an All-America and first-team All-SEC again, Eric Berry picked up his first personal award of the offseason, and it was a major one.

The Tennessee safety was named the Jim Thorpe Award winner on Thursday night at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., during the College Football Awards Show on ESPN. And before he could even pick up the trophy honoring the nation’s best defensive back, the assumption the junior would go pro was broadcast nationally.

Tennessee's Eric Berry poses with his trophy after winning the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista , Fla., on Thursday.

Photo by John Raoux

Tennessee's Eric Berry poses with his trophy after winning the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Lake Buena Vista , Fla., on Thursday.

“I’m going to really miss the fans,” Berry said in response to a question from host Chris Fowler. “The fans were always into the game whether we won or lost, they always stuck by us.”

It’s a safe bet that Berry won’t be sticking around with the Vols for much longer, though there hasn’t been any sort of official announcement yet.

His legacy at UT is already secure either way, and with that in mind he was also asked how it felt to draw comparisons to former Vols like Peyton Manning and Reggie White.

“I really can’t believe it when they put me in that group,” Berry said. “Those are outstanding players, and I just don’t see myself in that category or have proved as much as those guys yet.

“I’m just going to keep playing my part in football and see where it takes me.”

Joe Haden of Florida and Earl Thomas of Texas were the two other finalists.

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Comments » 94

VolPatrick writes:

All right! Congrats EB!!!!!

SeanJean writes:

Thatta way EB! You're the man. We're going to miss you in big orange country.

Greer_Vol_22 writes:

1 more year!....1 more year!....1 more year! say it with me peeps....1 more year!

Regulator writes:

Congrats and well deserved!! Would you be interested in becoming a two-time Thorpe Award winner???

mdvol writes:

Almost as good as the Heisman. Sure would love to see you playing on SATURDAYS next year!

topgun writes:

GREAT! Congrats to EB. GOVOLS!!

Hounddog writes:

My sincere congratulations to you Eric Berry and your entire family. The best to you in the future...send those brothers of yours our way. I was living in Jackson, MS when your dad came to UT and he is one of my all time favorites. The Berrys first class family and thank you.

Let's play football. Hounddog

423tiger18 writes:

Much deserved....1 more year????Please!!!

Kevinyaheard writes:

It would be nice to have EB back for another year but that would be quite selfish of us fans. There is more than likely goin to be a cap on rookie contracts next year, so if he stayed it would cost him mucho dinero!!! I'm glad we got to have him as a Vol for as long as we did, happy trails Eric Berry, happy trails....

EglinVOL writes:

WAY TO GO ERIC!!

zigvol writes:

Did anyone else notice how Fowlers conversation was about Berry and how he enjoyed his career at Tn. like he already had declared

utvolz#637682 writes:

Way to go Eric! A true Vol in spirit and ability!

crimsonviper writes:

Well deserved.
Hope to see him have a big bowl game.
He is an example of a fine student,athlete,and young man.

volatil writes:

Eric Berry, right up there with Manning, White and Majors!

mattgb7c writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

C'mon Witch Doctor...work some of that black magic of yours and convince Berry to stay another year!
Even though, I can't blame him--he just hit the lottery.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to Greer_Vol_22:

1 more year!....1 more year!....1 more year! say it with me peeps....1 more year!

Did anyone else notice what Chris Fowler said when Berry accepted the award? He had "setup" questions like, "What are you going to miss about playing in front of 100,000 fans each Saturday?" Eric's reply: "I'm gonna miss ________." Fill in the blank. I think that basically, Fowler set up EB to "admit" that he's leaving. His line of questioning basically led EB down that road.

That's what I got out of it, and man, I hope I'm wrong. But I doubt it. Best wishes to a young man who deserves it, and good luck in the future, with whatever choice you make.

(One more year!! One more year!! ONE MORE YEAR!!) :)

UTVolsFan7 writes:

That's what I am talking about! Finally some respect for the University of Tennessee. Every athlete on that team plays there heart out for four quarters. Congrats to Eric. Eric should have won the award two years in a row. Last season I believe the athlete from Ohio State was Malcolm Jenkins who won the award. He did not deserve it by comparing his numbers to Eric's and the competition they played against. Last thing I have to say is Eric please come back to Knoxville for your senior season. It will be your last chance at Florida, SEC Championship and BCS National Title.

rockytopatl writes:

Excellent! Congratulations, Eric Berry of the Volunteers! One of the all-time great Vol defenders who ranks right up there with Jack Reynolds, Steve Kiner, Reggie White, Leonard Little, Albert Haynesworth and Al Wilson. You will long be remembered as a warrior in orange!

volaboard writes:

Make up call for last year.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to volaboard:

Make up call for last year.

Funny how he had better stats last year and wins it this year. I just think it's funny that Floriduh is 0 for 2 with Tearbow and Hayden.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you realize how many people you're inviting in when you say, "whoever don't like us?" LOL Personally, I don't care--BRING THEM ON. :)

USNVOL writes:

Congratulation Eric !

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

I just got off a twitter conversation with Wes Rucker about Chris Fowler's line of questioning." Here's his reply to me:

"wesrucker @SuperSmo18 LKiffin said earlier today he's "given up hope" that EBerry's coming back. Chris Fowler gets a pass on this one, IMO"

Sad day, but bright future for EB. Now Janzen just needs to pee clean and work hard, and he'll be there too. GBO!!!

vol88 writes:

Good luck at the next level EB!

MikeInTN writes:

Would like to see Eric in Nashville as a Titan!!!

1BigOrangeVol writes:

in response to zigvol:

Did anyone else notice how Fowlers conversation was about Berry and how he enjoyed his career at Tn. like he already had declared

Yeah. I was thinking the same thing. It was like a "matter of fact" trick question. Good luck, Eric. Now go break the record on New Year's Eve and finish off your career @ UT with a bang (and a win of course"! Go Vols!!!

rockytopatl writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

Funny how he had better stats last year and wins it this year. I just think it's funny that Floriduh is 0 for 2 with Tearbow and Hayden.

Sophomores don't win awards like the Thorpe. It goes to seniors or juniors bound for the NFL.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Greer_Vol_22:

1 more year!....1 more year!....1 more year! say it with me peeps....1 more year!

Sorry Greer but I couldn't do it with a straight face.

He's done enough. Time to be rich.

GreenbackMike writes:

As a selfish UT fan I would love to se EB in Orange again next year. However, Eric is such a great player and my alltime fav Vol. Whatever team he is with next year is going to be better for having him. God Bless Eric Berry and his family. Thank you for being such a great example of a true "volunteer". You will be missed if you leave!

huntined#565710 writes:

Great job EB, Now go get the CASH!!!

ChattaVol1 writes:

Will the Bowl Game numbers count with regards to the interception return yards record. I hope so, that would be great!

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Sophomores don't win awards like the Thorpe. It goes to seniors or juniors bound for the NFL.

Yeah, sophomores don't win the Heisman, either.

Stranger things have happened, my friend, and IMO, his stats were better last year. I'm just sayin.'

PrimeTime writes:

Way to go EB!! If he does leave I at least get to see his last game as a VOL, see you at the GA DOME!

doctorvol#211700 writes:

in response to Kevinyaheard:

It would be nice to have EB back for another year but that would be quite selfish of us fans. There is more than likely goin to be a cap on rookie contracts next year, so if he stayed it would cost him mucho dinero!!! I'm glad we got to have him as a Vol for as long as we did, happy trails Eric Berry, happy trails....

Although the rookie salary cap would only affect top picks, it is a real factor for those like EB. Non-first-rounders should not consider that when deciding to stay or go. EBs a top 3 pick and difference maker. Has represented well!

cphil writes:

Hmmmm... and yet at least one SEC coach didn't think he was good enough to be on the 1st team all-SEC. Wonder who that was? (Cough, cough, URBAN, cough)

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

just hope he turns out to be a good UT spokesman like Peyton has been. Enormous exposure for the future of UT football.

ChattaVol1 writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks!

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Way to go EB. We love ya man! Thanks for giving your all for Tennessee.

Down_The_Field writes:

congrats eb!

dang, we're gonna miss you.

humble guy. i for one will mention his name with the likes of manning, white, and wilson.

pammyvol1000 writes:

Congrats Eric Berry!! We will miss you in the Orange. Thanks for representing Tennessee in such a class act. On that note.. I think I'm gonna cry and I know there is no crying in football.. See ya in the NFL Eric and I will be watching..:)) I know the guys are not into smileys but since I'm a gal.. it's allowed. :))

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

Do you realize how many people you're inviting in when you say, "whoever don't like us?" LOL Personally, I don't care--BRING THEM ON. :)

I thought the same thing....At least, there is absolutely NO WAY they can spin this one around..It's very cut-and-dry, even for the trolls to understand!!

go_vols_go writes:

ERRIIC BEEERRY! clap clap clap clap clap ......ERRIIC BEEERRY! clap clap clap clap clap

Love this guy, One more year would be great, but seeing that's not on the table great luck in the NFL. MY favorite Volunteer in years! EB, V,B!

69vol08 writes:

I love EB enough to "let him go"...he has to go...hard to pass up being that high of a pick...especially with the injury risk for a hard hitting defensive player...also, as a side note, not sure he could stay academically eligible for another year...may be academically ineligible for the bowl game...let's hope not! Go make us proud in the NFL, EB!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Would like to see Eric in Nashville as a Titan!!!

Yeah..me 2!!

KiFFiNOMiCS writes:

With the NFL's rules on rookies' salaries being capped next year in the draft...or something like that...alot of kids will leave early this year...wait and see...GOD BLESS ERIC BERRY...GOD BLESS THE VOL NATION...and for the 1,000,000's of VOL haters out there starting junk for us I say: "DON'T TREAD ON THE VOL NATION!"

RoadTrip writes:

I'm with the vast majority - thanks and congrats Eric! You did it right and with class. The Vol nation is extremely proud of you. Now go pro, make millions and extend your legacy by becoming the Peyton Manning of NFL defensive backs. Be sure and come back and help the Vols when you can. We will always have your back on Rocky Top.

jc_vols writes:

in response to 69vol08:

I love EB enough to "let him go"...he has to go...hard to pass up being that high of a pick...especially with the injury risk for a hard hitting defensive player...also, as a side note, not sure he could stay academically eligible for another year...may be academically ineligible for the bowl game...let's hope not! Go make us proud in the NFL, EB!

Take that garbage somewhere else!!!

volunteer_cowboy writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Would like to see Eric in Nashville as a Titan!!!

titans suck, same Oilers in new city. put him a star on side of helment. DALLAS COWBOYS. HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS....

vol_4_fan writes:

EB= CLASS!! thanks for your total commitment to the VOLS, you will always be one of the greats..best of luck and go get that INT in your home state.

Voluvr writes:

One more big E.

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