Berry wants to improve hometown of Fairburn, Ga.

Eric Berry talks about Georgia

Eric Berry wants to do everything he can to beat Georgia on Saturday.

Soon, however, the Tennessee junior safety will do everything he can to help out people living there.

Berry's longing to help his hometown of Fairburn, Ga., was never more evident than when he spoke of three friends who were killed in unrelated incidents last summer.

Berry said one friend was doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing, likely drug-related, and was shot in the face. Another was shot four or five times while at his home.

"Sometimes you just really have to appreciate what you're doing, just really cherish what you're doing because you never know what can happen," Berry said. "We were the same age. These are guys I played high school with."

Berry feels that sort of appreciation every time he makes a play for the Vols. That's why he'll be seen pointing to the heavens after each big play Saturday against Georgia (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.)

He's thankful, in part, because he knows that he has escaped the bad elements that are ruining his hometown.

"That whole area is starting to get bad," Berry said.

He thinks that renovations - or demolition - to a downtown Atlanta housing project has the less fortunate fleeing to suburbs like Fairburn.

"It's starting to cause a lot of mayhem out there," Berry said, "a lot of craziness going on."

Berry is 230 miles north of his hometown, but his heart has never been far away. He's already thought of ways to make Fairburn a better, safer place.

"That's been one of my goals," he said. "That's what I really want to do, is go back home and really get in touch with the youth and talk to them and get them a center where they can actually go to, to keep them off the streets."

An Eric Berry Community Center could soon be in the works, especially if Berry forgoes his senior season at UT to enter the NFL draft, as most expect. With those NFL riches, Berry could help Fairburn, unlike the unnamed few he believes haven't made an effort.

"Drugs and violence down there are getting out of hand," Berry said. "I think somebody really needs to do something about it.

"There are a lot of people that are in that position that come from Fairburn that could help out. Right now nobody is really doing that. They're not using their power to help out there. That's one of the main things I want to do when I do get out of here."

Berry travels to Fairburn when he can. Yet he knows fame has a cost.

There have been times when he feels like he's been targeted by someone who wants to prove he's as tough as an All-America safety.

"That's wherever you go," Berry said, "but at the same time I feel like I do need to go back and talk to the kids and show my face around there because that's where I'm from.

"I'm not going to forget where I'm from. I'm not going to forget where I came from. What I went through there helped me become what I am today.

"Wherever you go, you're going to have somebody that's going to have a target on you. But I just feel like that's something you have to do with your hometown."

Even among a suburb full of talented athletes, Berry is the star. He's the former Creekside High School quarterback/defensive back who went on to make Fairburn proud.

His friends act as such. They're there to insulate and protect Berry. One friend in particular brings some girth that can quickly end an argument before it escalates.

South Carolina offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins stands 6-foot-4, 340 pounds.

"He's a pretty big guy," Berry said with a smile. "He won't let anybody mess with me. He would never let me fight because he knows what that would do to my name.

"He would never let me fight. He would never let me retaliate."

That's good news for the Vols - and better news for Fairburn.

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Comments » 38

GahLee writes:

Good to hear him say this, nice to see, hopefully he goes through with it.

Gonna miss this kid next year.

bearbull95#206250 writes:

That is true character exhibited by one who leads by example. There will be more Eric Berry types coming to UT.

Pdiddy10 writes:

i hope hes the very first NFL draft pick. us fans need to promote that. i have little say in things but some people on here can promote berry going to the very first draft pick. i want to see him make some picks!

ChattaVol1 writes:

What a class act!

TommyJack writes:

Good guy, that one.

bluetick writes:

EB does none of this for added fame or anything. It comes from inside and shows what great character he has. He is the real deal. Glad he is a Vol and represents Tennessee in this way.

newtonrail writes:

I used to hate anyone leaving early unless they got their degree early, but I've had to re-evaluate. When someone like Eric has nothing else to prove in football, and could get hurt if he came back, he should go to the League early. I do hope he finishes his degree at some point, because you never know what life holds in the future.

cdonsbach writes:

Hope Eric makes millions, does great things for his hometown, and finishes a Hall of Famer in the NFL. It's obvious this young man has a huge heart for the world and I'm proud that he's a Tennessee Volunteer.

Voluvr writes:

Eric,
Just work to make it law that every able citizen get a concealed carry permit and carry a gun. It worked perfectly in that little texas town 5 yrs. ago. Crime disappeared.

Good work. Just don't get close to the jealous down there.

mytrifecta writes:

Great story. Eric we wish you the best in your NFL career...which no doubt will start next year. Also, please make your kid brother keep the verbal commitment he made to us last year!

ATX_VOL_FAN writes:

Has he said for sure if he was leaving after this year?

If not, then I'd like to see him come back next year to get his degree. It would be a lot more beneficial to the young kids. He would set a better example for them. Sure, he has nothing left to prove "on the field" but he does in the classroom. He has a good head on his shoulders. I think he 2 things could happen ...

He could declare for the draft after this year, so that he can get the Eric Berry Center up sooner.

OR he could come back next year and get his degree and use that as an example to the kids.

6MillionDollarPumpkin writes:

Eric Berry is the man. He WILL be the first defensive player taken in the draft.......unless the Raiders and Skeletor have the first pick.

BillVol writes:

Another good one, John.

AceVentura writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm with you on gun control, and many disagree. That's fine but that's just our opinion, that guns need to be controlled. And I see where you're coming from with the whole idea that Eric could get in trouble, but don't put it so bluntly. A lot of bad people make money doing bad things, and good people make money doing good things. And we all know nobody likes it when their way of money is interrupted in any way. Eric Berry is a class act and I like that he's speaking out about drugs and violence. Hopefully we've seen the end of failed drug tests in the UT Football team. Lets pound the dawgs.

allvol9 writes:

Just a class act and what a tremendous representative for The University of Tennessee. One day his name will be in Neyland Stadium along with the other greats. Nice article.

forkball writes:

Perfect example, it all starts with the parents.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to allvol9:

Just a class act and what a tremendous representative for The University of Tennessee. One day his name will be in Neyland Stadium along with the other greats. Nice article.

Agree with all three points. Players like E.B. don't come around often.

madisonvillevol writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you are an idiot.

Alphafemale writes:

I am so glad Eric Berry came to TN to play. I hate that we didn't have better teams to surround him with so that he could shine even more than he already does. I wish him continued success no matter what he decides to do.

allvolinatlanta writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

RICHARD HEAD!

TommyJack writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you Ben Stein?

dadofisaac writes:

Berry appears to be a class act, and one that I would be proud for my son to emulate.

As for gun control, it would only burden the law abiding citizen. The criminal element could still find all they want. Remember Prohibition?

Vote for me in the Presidential election in 2020. My administration will not coddle the criminal.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

and you have done nothing in life. You are an idiot. Eric had a career high number of tackles

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He was credited with SIXTEEN tackles vs Auburn. How many tackles did you have last saturday, imbecile?

06143831 writes:

in response to bearbull95#206250:

That is true character exhibited by one who leads by example. There will be more Eric Berry types coming to UT.

i hope so. Its a rare treat when you get an EB on your team. Kind of reminds me of reggie white.

jimr07 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not a bad choice. Of course, you cannot beat Peyton for giving back to the community. I hope he goes numnber one but have my doubts about that.

Moaninglikeheck writes:

If Berry doesn't win the Heisman, maybe he can make a bid for the Nobel Peace Prize. Evidently it is a political popularity contest and you don't actually have to do anything to achieve it. (See this year's winner) Very much like the Heisman trophy. Berry for Nobel!!!

the10sevol writes:

in response to 6MillionDollarPumpkin:

Eric Berry is the man. He WILL be the first defensive player taken in the draft.......unless the Raiders and Skeletor have the first pick.

put up a billboard outside the raiders' office with eb and clk arm-in-arm, smiling together. that oughta scare off the old corpse.

GBO

REVOL writes:

Ladies and gentlemen, this young man is what all athletes, no, all young men should strive to become. I am proud to have Eric Berry represent the University of Tennessee. Kudos to his parents. Go Vols! Beat Georgia!

miketnvolsfan writes:

yes eric is the man you know his parents are proud also you gotta want your kids to grow up and be just like him thats the kind of role models you want to let your kids grow up watching play football in TENNESSEE .... ITS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSEE VOL

tensie2004 writes:

Eric Berry is a great athletic but his greatest attribute is that he is totally a quality person and that can be traced back to the way he was raised by his mother and father. They are all a class act and the Vols should be grateful that Eric and his father chose to play football at Tennessee. We are a better place because of them.

ctownvol writes:

in response to Moaninglikeheck:

If Berry doesn't win the Heisman, maybe he can make a bid for the Nobel Peace Prize. Evidently it is a political popularity contest and you don't actually have to do anything to achieve it. (See this year's winner) Very much like the Heisman trophy. Berry for Nobel!!!

Stop the presses! The world MUST be coming to an end. I actually found humor in and agreed with something Moaning had to say. I think I need to go lie down.

koamalina writes:

During my years on The Hill, we had Reggie White. Today, there is Eric Berry; a hero to Vol fans who lives up to the title "hero".

johnlg00 writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you just truly not understand what a sad and sorry individual you are? In this context, this is just about the most contemptible thing ANYONE has posted on here, and that is saying something! You win the all-time award for the most classless post ever on this board.

On a more edifying note, I'm not much of a praying man, but I hope God puts his sheltering hand over Eric. He is a blessing to this fallen world, which, as some have already suggested, unfortunately makes him a target for those who are too miserable and hateful to live in the same world he does.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Moaninglikeheck:

If Berry doesn't win the Heisman, maybe he can make a bid for the Nobel Peace Prize. Evidently it is a political popularity contest and you don't actually have to do anything to achieve it. (See this year's winner) Very much like the Heisman trophy. Berry for Nobel!!!

Ha. Ha.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volfromfla56_did_I_hurt_your_feelings:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are absolutely right. I have vowed to myself before not to respond to him, but every once in awhile he comes up with something so breathtakingly stupid, irrelevant, or insensitive that it trips my troll-surge-protector.

Nicolevol writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thank You.

Nicolevol writes:

in response to vol1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well Said. Thanks

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