Love affair between Eric Berry and Vols still going strong

David Stluka/Associated Press
Kansas City safety Eric Berry, a former University of Tennessee star, smiles at the NFL Honors show in February.

Photo by David Stluka

David Stluka/Associated Press Kansas City safety Eric Berry, a former University of Tennessee star, smiles at the NFL Honors show in February.

The desire to watch football was missing for a few months after his first major injury.

Eric Berry still tuned in to watch Tennessee.

Pushing himself through rehabilitation on that torn anterior cruciate ligament, he again craved something from his old program.

So former Vols Art Evans and Savion Frazier were enlisted to work out with him in Florida.

And as soon as Berry gets back on the campus, where he turned himself into a first-round draft pick and laid the foundation to become an NFL starter, the Kansas City Chiefs safety is chasing down Vols to get in the weight room and talk shop with him.

Berry's love affair with UT shows no signs of slowing down two seasons removed from the last game of his collegiate career, celebrating a two-year anniversary of sorts from his own Pro Day by returning to support a few former teammates trying to join him at the next level.

"I just feel like coming back here, there's nothing like the bond at UT," Berry said on Friday. "I love my teammates in Kansas City, I love the organization up there, but there's just nothing like working out with your guys here.

"These are the guys that you go eat with, you work out with and you go to the games with. There's just something about coming back and working out with these guys."

That group included a handful of veteran defensive backs who were around during his last campaign in 2009, including Prentiss Waggner, Eric Gordon and Marsalis Teague.

And though Berry is starting to get low on former teammates to run with when he returns to UT, he's already spinning that into a positive to build new relationships and help pass on some tradition and history to the guys following behind him.

It probably doesn't hurt any that photos of Berry aren't hard to find in the practice facility. And despite his season-ending injury in Week One last year with the Chiefs, his profile as a professional hasn't been damaged either.

"I'm always going to come back," Berry said. "I just feel like my loyalty is with that 'T.' The university has done so much for me, and I just love where I went to school. That's why I made this decision to come to this university where guys like Peyton (Manning) played, guys like Al Wilson. Peyton still comes back, and he doesn't have his head coach here.

"The stronger we are as former players, coming back and showing love to those guys, then those guys will go on and do the same thing. That's just how you build that bond."

Those aren't the only construction projects going on for Berry during a longer-than-expected offseason.

He's working to expand his impact in the community by again hosting camps for kids, including a pair of them in Knoxville during the first week of June at D1 Sports.

His foundation is continuing to raise money and fund programs to benefit Knoxville, Kansas City and Atlanta.

And then there's the personal work on his ACL that has occupied his time, which he estimates is "80 or 85 percent" done.

"I'm really excited about where I'm at, ahead of schedule," Berry said. "Right now, I feel very comfortable with where I'm at, running, cutting, starting to do plyometrics as well, and the process is going really well.

"Probably the first month or two, that was real tough for me. I didn't really watch any football that was on television. I just watched the Chiefs when I could, but other than that I was watching college football, I was watching UT."

Even if they were only drills on Pro Day, Berry wasn't turning down the chance to watch the Vols again in person.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 33

FWBVol writes:

You have to love Eric Berry a true Vol For Life. I love the fact that even though most of his former teammates are now out of the program he still wants to reach out to the current players and pass along the torch of Tennessee tradition.

Eric Berry, like Peyton Manning embodies what it is not only to be a Tennessee Volunteer football player but a University of Tennessee student athlete.

Dalton writes:

Love these VFL's and as long as the Vols have classy standup icons like EB, Al Wilson and Peyton we're never too far away from success...just pay attention yungins...this is what you're working towards....GOVOLS!!!

volgrog#210164 writes:

Eric Berry is definitely one of my 5 favorite Vols of all time. In my opinion, he was the best football player I've ever seen. Peyton was a great player, but in terms of instinct and athleticism, Eric Berry was the best.

I thought he was somewhat wasted with the Kiffins.

VolGrad writes:

EB is a great football player and an even better person.

I loved it when he tweeted after the ACL injury that his doctor was shocked at first cause he had forgotten to tell him his blood ran deep orange.

GBO!

Dalton writes:

in response to volgrog#210164:

Eric Berry is definitely one of my 5 favorite Vols of all time. In my opinion, he was the best football player I've ever seen. Peyton was a great player, but in terms of instinct and athleticism, Eric Berry was the best.

I thought he was somewhat wasted with the Kiffins.

You're being kind with the "somewhat " I grumbled and accepted it at the time but Monte screwed the pooch by making EB a glorified linebacker....he would have owned that int return record in spades and that team could've used every TD that season....but hey...geniuses

Vols4Ever writes:

in response to volgrog#210164:

Eric Berry is definitely one of my 5 favorite Vols of all time. In my opinion, he was the best football player I've ever seen. Peyton was a great player, but in terms of instinct and athleticism, Eric Berry was the best.

I thought he was somewhat wasted with the Kiffins.

Eric's ability to display his talent was wasted by the Kiffens, but he still was a top pick and is true VOL. Our program was destroyed by Lame, Big O, et. al. and might be in the desert for a long time. Mr. Hamilton rolled the dice and we get craps.

EB is a classy, talented, loyal, Orange bleeding VOL. He is top shelf. But don't limit that group by attempting to impose a numerical classification. Atkins, Reynolds, many Majors, Warren, Watson, etc. are top 5, 10, 50 VOLS with many others before and after.

We must acquire this again

"We just had so much confidence in the coaches and the fact that could get us in position to win. And they enjoyed going to practice and being around us. They respected us as much as we respected them.''
"Everything,'' said Brown, "was done in the team spirit. No one took on the role as star player.''
"The kind of team we had in '85,'' said Smith, "we had guys that when opportunity called, they stepped up and everything just fell in place.''

1985 Sugar Bowl

woodwr#217203 writes:

Doesn't Eric Berry have younger brothers?

tnfanincali writes:

so impressed with EB! He is a shining example of what it means to be an exemplary human being. and the fact that he was and is a vol (for life) is just icing on the cake...

gohawks1 writes:

in response to woodwr#217203:

Doesn't Eric Berry have younger brothers?

Yes... two if I remember correctly. They should be in HS now or getting close to it. One of them was getting a lot of attention even back in middle school... showed a lot of interest in UT at the time. Hope he still is.

Bigger_Al writes:

ER-ic BER-ry! ER-ic BER-ry!

Dougb-VFL writes:

I can't wait to see Eric back on the field. I am a Bills fan but when Berry went to the chiefs I started liking them as well. He is a great talent with excellent instincts that can't be taught and I am hoping he will tell his 2 brothers how great it is to be a VOL! From what I hear they both are great,I believe 1 plays linebacker and the other is a running back and those are 2 very important positions we need gamers at to compete in the SEC. VFL

RockyTopVolFan writes:

Welcome Back Eric!
You are always welcome in the Land O' the Orange.
We hope your return to the paying, playing, and praying field goes better than ever and that you enjoy continued success.
GO VOLS!

givehim6 writes:

Only a few of the great players UT has had over the years have had the true VOL spirit but EB had it! And still has it! Was happy for him and his family when he was a first round pick, but part of me was sad UT only had Eric 3 years. But hope you get many more years to play the game you love.

mercuryvol writes:

The prototype for what should be playing at UT.

jimr07 writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

do you have a dog to kick or an old wound to pour salt in... wow.. you ain't no vol..

voloffaith writes:

in response to jimr07:

do you have a dog to kick or an old wound to pour salt in... wow.. you ain't no vol..

Interesting that he and Jethro BodeanEVol posted back to back. MerlotgOvOls is pronounced Murl-ot...don't make him into a French wine....wait how about a French WHINE?

CroKev writes:

"Plyo... what?" Maybe I should give this plyometrics stuff a try.

FWIW, we should be sending this article mentioning Peyton and Eric's love for their beloved school to every recruit we can; and make sure that the envelope is addressed to the parents!

Dougb-VFL writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eric Berry is a VFL which obviously you are not.Are you a fan of UT? If not why don't you get a hobby or something to pass time because your silly remarks are not needed here.Our men's bb team is going deep into the NIT(maybe even a championship),our lady Vols are still playing in the ncaa tournament,and our football team has the experience and depth to contend for the east this year(not to mention a great staff from top to bottom)! You can hate all you want but I am looking forward to singing rocky top alot this year.Did you expect to beat the mildcats for the rest of your life? Did you expect to keep our entire coaching staff intact after the last 3 years of mediocrity? You need a reality check and you need to support our coaches if you are a fan of the orange,if not stop wasting what is left of your brain cells to try to deflate our fanbase! VFL

Dougb-VFL writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Apparently you have been living in a cave with bin laden for along time if you don't know who Eric Berry is. You are obviously online so simply go to youtube and search his name,I promise if you have any clue about football you will like what you see. He is possibly in the top 10 defensive backs in the entire NFL which is more than I can say about any former gators! Are you still upset about those spankings that Cuonzo gave to your team this year? I hope you can get over it because UT will own the hardwood (men and women)for a long time and in football we stop that streak this year! VFL

Navaloranges writes:

Where are the POSERS that were saying EB wouldn't have anything to do with a Dooley led Vol team? Tweenty-two responses to a POSITIVE article connecting UT and Berry. Tells you a lot about this site I'm afraid. Mertrollalot commented, but that's to be expected from a FIRST RATE POSER like him. I'm surprised he's only used one screen name, so far.

All the talk about EB being miffed at Dooley for this BS reason, or that is just as I said. a bunch of BS supplied by the regular TROLLS that live on this site. TWENTY-TWO COMMENTS!!!!! HILARIOUS.

The GREAT EB is fourth on my list all time.

Bubba_Knows writes:

Top 4 Favorite Vols (Defense): Reggie White, Al Wilson, Leonard Little, Eric Berry.

GoVols_16 writes:

Eric, Thanks for representing the University well. You're one of the shining examples of why its great to be a Tennessee Vol!

volboy81 writes:

you da man, Eric!! Loved your dad when he was playing here and loved watching you play.
GO VOLS!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Dougb-VFL:

Eric Berry is a VFL which obviously you are not.Are you a fan of UT? If not why don't you get a hobby or something to pass time because your silly remarks are not needed here.Our men's bb team is going deep into the NIT(maybe even a championship),our lady Vols are still playing in the ncaa tournament,and our football team has the experience and depth to contend for the east this year(not to mention a great staff from top to bottom)! You can hate all you want but I am looking forward to singing rocky top alot this year.Did you expect to beat the mildcats for the rest of your life? Did you expect to keep our entire coaching staff intact after the last 3 years of mediocrity? You need a reality check and you need to support our coaches if you are a fan of the orange,if not stop wasting what is left of your brain cells to try to deflate our fanbase! VFL

It never ceases to amaze me how guys like Eric and Peyton can continue to be loyal to UT and the football program when their coaches are long gone and there is nobody left who played with them, yet so many of our negaVols get their panties in a wad and jump ship when the program hits a bad patch. What is UT doing for Berry and Manning NOW that inspires their continuing loyalty? They haven't given up on the Orange. They don't owe us a thing, yet they keep on giving back. I guess that shows the difference in character between such people as they are and the ones who want to whine and sneer at the program while proclaiming their "all-Vol, all-the-time" status.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

EB <--- VFL and always will be!!!

What a great person and FB player he is.

Trolls and posers should just hang themselves and get out of their pathetic, totally miserable lives.

VFL...GBO!!!

Dougb-VFL writes:

in response to johnlg00:

It never ceases to amaze me how guys like Eric and Peyton can continue to be loyal to UT and the football program when their coaches are long gone and there is nobody left who played with them, yet so many of our negaVols get their panties in a wad and jump ship when the program hits a bad patch. What is UT doing for Berry and Manning NOW that inspires their continuing loyalty? They haven't given up on the Orange. They don't owe us a thing, yet they keep on giving back. I guess that shows the difference in character between such people as they are and the ones who want to whine and sneer at the program while proclaiming their "all-Vol, all-the-time" status.

Spoken like a true VFL! Thanks for always having a great outlook in any situation,I enjoy reading your posts.See you in Neyland.VFL

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Thanks for the support, Eric!

RashaadSalabeb writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Herabouthequeatsahoo?

redskinvol1 writes:

Dooley must get both of his brothers.

KiwiLuvsUT writes:

How much longer till UT retires his #? That might give a much needed boost to our fanbase's spirit. I mean not this year but sometime in the next 10 years? Also, if Dooley is still around when EBs little brothers come through (Idk when that is) they are a must get. GBO!

Navaloranges writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are a little man in a Fantasyland. Fulmer's last class was 35th. In the two years after Fulmer was properly FIRED, UT lost 21 players to attrition, whose scholly's weren't replaced until now. His lack of bringing in quality linemen for the last 4-5 years of his career almost totally destroyed the program. That's REALITY, a place you don't reside, POSER.

MemphoVol writes:

in response to CroKev:

"Plyo... what?" Maybe I should give this plyometrics stuff a try.

FWIW, we should be sending this article mentioning Peyton and Eric's love for their beloved school to every recruit we can; and make sure that the envelope is addressed to the parents!

Plyometrics = Cardio Jump Training. It will kick your behind.
And agree with your idea about sending the article to parents of recruits. Then, a week later, send them the video of The Year of the QB, The Conredge Holloway Story.

SickToMyStomach89 writes:

in response to woodwr#217203:

Doesn't Eric Berry have younger brothers?

Twins. Already said to be better than Eric was at their age. I think they are in the class of 2014. Apparently Tennessee hasn't been contacting them though. Better get our stuff together if we want them

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.

Features