It's Berry time: Decision made after talking to family, Kiffin

Tennessee cornerback Eric Berry (14) leaves the field possibly for the last time as the Vols defeat Vanderbilt 31-16 on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Joe Howell

Tennessee cornerback Eric Berry (14) leaves the field possibly for the last time as the Vols defeat Vanderbilt 31-16 on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

ATLANTA - Lane Kiffin doesn't stop recruiting often.

But at least when it comes to players already in the program, the Tennessee coach is able to shut down his role as pitchman and play it straight for a while.

That might cost the Vols a chance to keep a few NFL-eligible players for an extra season at times, but Kiffin won't ever try to hold anybody back - starting with junior Eric Berry. Neither announced a definitive decision during a press conference Monday, but with one expected after the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia Tech on Thursday (TV: ESPN, 7:30 p.m.), it seems clear where the safety is headed.

"These may be the only conversations that I don't recruit in is with these guys," Kiffin said. "It's too important for them to make the right decision. This isn't about me, it isn't about Tennessee.

"This is about Eric and Eric's family, and so I told Eric from my perspective that he's done everything that he can do. If he wants to go, this is the time to go."

In all likelihood he will, and Berry's stock could hardly be higher.

At least one projection has the versatile defender as the No. 1 player in the draft, and though Berry has repeatedly talked about his love for UT (7-5) and the coaching staff, outside factors could make it hard for him to return.

After delaying an announcement last week until after playing the Hokies (9-3), Berry again deflected most every question about his status and wouldn't address specific issues influencing his decision. But everything from family concerns to possible restructuring of the NFL pay scale seem to make this the right time for him to move on, and one way or the other he's already made up his mind.

"It's kind of made up, but right now I don't want to get into that," Berry said. "I want to focus on Virginia Tech and just deal with that right now.

"I really just wanted to make sure there was no stone unturned. I sat down with coach Kiffin and talked about it, sat down with my family, talked with some of my close teammates and friends about the whole situation. I wanted to make sure I weighed out every possible scenario and situation that could happen."

That answer won't be revealed for a couple days, but Berry's certainly not hurting for feedback and praise for him continues to roll in.

Draft experts all have him at or near the top of the board. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer identified Berry as the player the Hokies absolutely have to block.

And then his own coach pumped him up as the perfect target for NFL teams.

"Eric has played man-to-man coverage, we've blitzed him, he's played back in the middle, he's played halves, he's played down, so to be able to do all those things and then also play on our special teams as many snaps as he has, he's created a lot of draft value for himself," Kiffin said. "I think as people look at him, when you evaluate safeties a lot of times, the majority of safeties can only play one spot. They can only play free or strong because of how they're set up.

"He's very unique because he can play free, he can play strong or he can play nickel corner, so I would think he would go extremely high - whenever he leaves."

That might or might not be after the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But if Berry does decide to stay, it won't be because of a second recruitment by the Vols.

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Comments » 63

stayingorange writes:

Go out on a great performance Thursday EB - hopefully with about 10 INT return yards mixed in - and be first in the draft.

bfowler1161#262198 writes:

Would love to see EB stay, but would understand completely if he goes. Best of luck!

Go Vols!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

there is no choice, especially with the pay scale changing after next yr. It was a nice ride EB!!

midnite__VOL writes:

I wish EB the best in whatever he decides.

MikeInTN writes:

He will be taken before the Titans can get him, but it sure would be nice to have in Nashville. Best of luck Eric!

murrayvol writes:

The Big Orange Nation will always leave a light on for you Eric. Thanks!

utken1942 writes:

Eric, either way, you are a special person in the eyes of my grandson, thanks for the autograph on his jersey. God Bless and good luck in the NFL> Beat VT

BigVolD writes:

A high character high class individual. A fine role model for kids to look up to. Would love to have him back, but best of luck whatever you decide. Thank yous to a classy classy young man! You will forever be a Volunteer!

Brillovol writes:

A no brainer for him. As much as I would love to see him stay, he's gotta take the guaranteed dough. We're talking millions more this year even if he goes a few spots higher next year. This may be the most loaded draft top to bottom because of the pending rookie cap.

stantorini writes:

why all the drama? everyone knows he is leaving. why would he want to come back for another projected mediocre year at tennessee?

Major_Magilicutty writes:

in response to stantorini:

why all the drama? everyone knows he is leaving. why would he want to come back for another projected mediocre year at tennessee?

You guys never fail. Enjoy being a tool.

Voluvr writes:

Well, it worked for Manning,.....it would be great, but I wouldn't hold it against him if he leaves. If he stays.....reserved parking outside the stadium and free roosters at the Smoky Mountain Market!

vol_chaz writes:

He's moving on, hope the best for EB. He'll forever be known as being a part of the class that turned the ship around.

kyvolunteer writes:

I think Coach Cryer said it best, "FAMILY FIRST", best of luck EB, you are a true VOLUNTEER

UTOTIS writes:

One of the best to ever put on the
orange & white...he'll be missed but never forgotten. God Bless EB!

1volfanatic writes:

in response to FirstAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I 2nd that. GO VOLS!! And good luck EB in all you do in the future.

go_vols_go writes:

As a faithful Vol Fan I'd love to see him stay one more year. However, if someone dangled a healthy contract and signing bonus in front of me I would be crazy not to jump at the opportunity. Best of luck in the NFL EB. You will always be a Volunteer! BEAT VT! V, B! GBO!

go_vols_go writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Well, it worked for Manning,.....it would be great, but I wouldn't hold it against him if he leaves. If he stays.....reserved parking outside the stadium and free roosters at the Smoky Mountain Market!

Cajun Roosters taste best at 3am after tying one on at Cool Beans.

Mr_Bandman writes:

I remember clearly the feeling of certainty a little more than a decade ago that a junior QB for the VOLS was going early, and that he was likely a top 5 pick and he had accomplished all he could and everybody just accepted it and wished him well....then he turned it around on everyone....that was a great day for UT Football....I know it's unlikely that something like that could happen with EB, but it's nice to dream for the moment....

TommyJack writes:

Cajun Rooster???

volhome#407234 writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Well, it worked for Manning,.....it would be great, but I wouldn't hold it against him if he leaves. If he stays.....reserved parking outside the stadium and free roosters at the Smoky Mountain Market!

Lord, I miss being able to stop in a Smoky Mountain Markets all over the area and saying "Let me have a Rooster!"! Are there any still left anywhere?

dburgvet writes:

It is always about the money never what is best for the team, fans, team mates, university, etc, etc. Funny how the government does not talk about the escalating salaries of athletes which this article and others points out guarantees the salary of these first rounders regardless of the output. Imagine this happening on Walstreet. Hope he stays but if he does not I wish him well and hope he makes a ton of money and donates some back to UT!

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Major_Magilicutty:

You guys never fail. Enjoy being a tool.

Enjoy being a tool.

Enjoy the 6th grade again

volaholic45 writes:

Best for the team? For the fans? For his teammates? For the university? EB throwing them all under the bus for mere money! O, the humanity!

You gotta be kidding! He owes the team, fans, teammates, and the university no debt that he hasn't already paid handsomely. Seems to me like the team, fans, teammates, and u have all gotten way more than they've paid for EB's services.

I like the kid, and therefore would have a sick, apprehensive feeling if he opted to stay. He has an opportunity to vastly improve life for his family, himself, and future generations (if the $ is used well). I question the shallow motivations of any who hope he stays.

All_F_N_Vol writes:

My vote is money comes and goes, but history lasts forever. Hope to see you wearing orange next year. Go VOLS

notoriousBIGorange writes:

EB is the greatest player in the SEC and will be the first SEC player selected in the NFL draft...far ahead of Tearbow (the second coming of Eric Crouch)

VolinCalif writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Cajun Rooster???

TJ I know you aren't so old that you are having trouble with your short term memory. But as well as I can remember I think it might be spicy hot wings. Just guessing. But here is one for you. Here on the West coast the word is Lane is on Fl hot list. My brother in law arrived here in Sacramento for a visit today. He clams that it is news in the LA area. He was a starter and an assistant coach at Fresno State; of course that was shortly after the Big Bang.He is very well versed on recruits and what is happening on the west coast. But as I told him Fl is just a little farther East than LA. His source is a tie to the Fresno State program. He wouldn't conform who it came from but said the contact between Fl and Kiffin was being held up by Lane. Is this true? I don't know but Lew is pretty well informed. But he has been known to jerk me around a time or two. Put your ear to the wall young man and please post me a reply.
The old one, but the Winnie can still cooks just can't find a grill. I hope all,including trolls, had a merry Xmas and as Vols we'll have a great New Year. Have one for me after the game.

VOLoom writes:

in response to volhome#407234:

Lord, I miss being able to stop in a Smoky Mountain Markets all over the area and saying "Let me have a Rooster!"! Are there any still left anywhere?

On Northshore near Kingston Pike in Bearden is the only one I know of. It might dissapoint you though.

CadmiumOchre (Inactive) writes:

in response to All_F_N_Vol:

My vote is money comes and goes, but history lasts forever. Hope to see you wearing orange next year. Go VOLS

Then you don't mine "coming" and giving his family some money? Parents got laid off work, are struggling to make ends meet and EB has a chance to make a difference for them.

I want him to stay because if he did, the Berry-Jacson tandem would be very disturbing for opponents next year. But I respect whatever decision he makes including leaving. I'm as selfish as you are about this but it's tempered with respect for what the man's family is facing and the fact he's guaranteed to hit the lottery jackpot and better the life of his family. Parents who I understand gave the best they had for him and his brother.

If he stayed and got hurt and thus missed out on this opportunity, would you be providing financial support for his family or just stating how sorry you are and forgetting about it in under 5 minutes? A true Vols fan actually cares about team members enough to respect decisions such as what EB faces.

John_10065 writes:

I wish him the best. In a way I hope he does leave. There is a lot at risk financially staying another year. Anything can happen and an injury would drop his stock a lot even if he does recover. I remember what happened to Michael Bush in 2005. He would have been a 1st round draft choice and ended up going at the end of the 6th round to the Raiders even though he did recover:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/st...

kyvol98 writes:

One goes to college for the education to go out in the world and make a living. Eric has gotten his degree in his chosen field (football) in 3 years, so why not take the $$$$. No shame in that. Best of luck to a man with class!

gslaton#227127 writes:

I think EB said he would probably stay if his father got a job. Anybody got an opening?

Vol1967 writes:

I wish I could have seen Eric play one more year under Fulmer, I imagine he would have buried that record so deep into the record book that it would have never been broken. Oh well, I guess 7-5 is pretty good too. GBO

DownTheField writes:

"I really just wanted to make sure there was no stone unturned. I sat down with coach Kiffin and talked about it, sat down with my family, talked with some of my close teammates and friends about the whole situation. I wanted to make sure I weighed out every possible scenario and situation that could happen."

Yeah, but we all know that he does this kind of analysis at lightning speed on every single down he plays.. i.e. EB could make this decision in about .002 sec.

DownTheField writes:

There's the battle and then there's the war. If Berry stays, we may win the battle. OTOH, the more players that Kiff and Co. can get into the pros quickly, then we win the recruiting war. In other words, by encouraging EB to leave, Kiff is both doing the right thing and doing what it takes to win.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Murray is the one who always brings the real bologna to the Dupree family reunions.

Quality guy.

Biggie writes:

I always be thankfull to EB. He's a class act and has represented UT in the highest of tradition. Sure, I'd LOVE to see him stay but won't fault him a bit if he goes.
THANKS EB!

volsoutwest writes:

in response to All_F_N_Vol:

My vote is money comes and goes, but history lasts forever. Hope to see you wearing orange next year. Go VOLS

I agree money comes and goes, but history can be made in the NFL as well as at UT. He must do what is best for him and his family. An extra year in the pros vs. a year in college(really no contest from a financial standpoint). Too, we only have a certain number of years to market our talents, especially in the NFL, so he would be better served getting started sooner. No one can argue he has already given his all for UT, so I say Eric do what is best for you and family.

TotalPackage1 writes:

in response to Voluvr:

Well, it worked for Manning,.....it would be great, but I wouldn't hold it against him if he leaves. If he stays.....reserved parking outside the stadium and free roosters at the Smoky Mountain Market!

As a Tennessean now living in Bama, your post brought back memories of how good "Roosters" are!

TommyJack writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Marcus, you serious?

DownTheField writes:

in response to FARRAGUT0406:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not true. A college degree secures nothing- it is today's equivalent to a high school diploma 30 years ago.

UTByrd writes:

No doubt about it, Eric will take care of business no matter what he decides. I wish him the best life has to offer for he deserves it.
Now, let's not forget one of his younger brothers (twins) has already committed to UT.
Bring it on!
Go VOLS!!!!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to Vol1967:

I wish I could have seen Eric play one more year under Fulmer, I imagine he would have buried that record so deep into the record book that it would have never been broken. Oh well, I guess 7-5 is pretty good too. GBO

Your right; under monte he had a totally different role..He's definitely gone and thats part of the reason..My only wish is that he has a Monster game against Tech and goes out with the MVP game trophy; He deserves at least that much!!

volsbandit writes:

good luck in Detroit.....if they get #1 picks every year, why can't they win?

givehim6 writes:

in response to stantorini:

why all the drama? everyone knows he is leaving. why would he want to come back for another projected mediocre year at tennessee?

Yes, we all know were he will be this time next year, would be nice if he was in nashville. KNS is getting as much out of this story as they can. But why so pessimistic about UT's future? Unless your one of those people. If you are, " hay Meyers your empire is crumbling".

bassinvol77 writes:

Eric Berry will be missed. The only bad thing about being that high of a draft pick is that he will be playing for the Browns or Lions

huntined#565710 writes:

Go get the money Berry!!! You have done a great job here..

mmhartz writes:

in response to FARRAGUT0406:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The sole purpose of an "education" or a "degree" is so that you can earn a living. If Eric Berry goes as high as he is predicted to in the draft, he will earn more in one year than most of us "educated" folks will in multiple lifetimes. Why does he need a piece of paper to prove anything? I also remember the same argument being raised when Lebron James went straight from high school to the NBA. I think he is doing just fine without his piece of paper.

spvol writes:

in response to stantorini:

why all the drama? everyone knows he is leaving. why would he want to come back for another projected mediocre year at tennessee?

"Ignorance is bliss". You must be the happiest guy on the planet.

paradisetaxi writes:

I wish you, EB, all the best. TY !

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