Many expected Eric Berry to laugh off the question.
Surely the report that his 13-year-old brother, Evan Berry, had committed to Tennessee was just recruiting coverage gone amuck. Not so, said the UT junior safety.
“To be honest with you, he actually committed before I did,” said Berry, who committed to UT in December 2006. “I did the little interview on TV and he just committed then, too. I guess nobody saw it but he committed then.”
Eric Berry said he’s feeling the heat from Evan and his twin brother, Elliot, who reportedly prefers LSU. Evan recently ran the 100 meters in 11.25 seconds. Elliot ran the 200 in 22.33. A competition between the three brothers has already been set up.
“I’ve been trying to get ready for them,” Eric Berry said. “We’ve got a race supposedly coming up next year.”
It’s hard to compare Eric’s speed to Evan or Elliot. Eric Berry didn’t run track. He played baseball when he wasn’t starring on the football field. According to Eric, speed isn’t the only thing the brothers have going for them.
“They do pushups and sit-ups every night so I’m trying to keep up with those guys,” he said.
Surviving The Slump: Kicker Daniel Lincoln has taken a number of steps to return to his freshman form after a disappointing sophomore season.
The junior has reached out to former UT kickers Fuad Reveiz, Jeff Hall and James Wilhoit.
“To find out what I did wrong or what I needed to change,” said Lincoln, who was 10-of-18 for 55.6 percent in 2008.
Lincoln said he’s tried to focus on flexibility more than strength this off-season. He’s also trying to fine-tune his mental approach to kicking in hopes of putting less pressure on himself.
“That’s something I’ve dealt with and tried to temper a little bit,” Wilhoit said. “I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself. There’s so much pressure around Tennessee football and what goes on in a game. I think I’ve paid too much attention to that.”
Lincoln said he is trying to make kicking fun. He seemed to be having fun his freshman year, when he was 21-of-29 for 72.4 percent.
“Once you take the pressure away,” Lincoln said, “it’s fun.”
Lincoln also attended a retreat in Colorado, along with three teammates: linebacker Nick Reveiz, punter Chad Cunningham and defensive end Chris Walker.
The objective was to help student-athletes cope with the pressure they regularly face. For 19 hours, campers weren’t allowed to eat or sleep and then were forced to climb a mountain.
“It was definitely a great experience for all of us,” Lincoln said.
All of off-season preparation is designed to help Lincoln relax.
“It’s just another kick,” Lincoln said, reciting what he should be thinking before a field goal attempt. “Now just do it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You’ve trained for it. You should be prepared. There’s nothing to think about.”
Lincoln said he decided against seeing a sports psychologist, as many other UT kickers have done.
“Whenever you start thinking too much about this, that’s when things start going wrong … I don’t think I needed to mess with that,” Lincoln said.
Crompton’s Cause: Quarterback Jonathan Crompton said he appreciated the response from UT fans after the News Sentinel reported in May that he received death threats last fall.
Crompton said the response was encouraging but added that he was ready to put the 2008 season behind him.
“I appreciate all the … apologies from everybody that sent them,” Crompton said. “But we’re looking forward to this year and hope they are too.”
Well Respected: Senior tailback Montario Hardesty said he doesn’t feel overlooked because fans and media are often fixated on highly rated freshman tailbacks Bryce Brown and David Oku.
“I’ve got the respect of this team so it’s all good,” Hardesty said.