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Taking a look at Vols' safety Berry

Some recruits are can’t-miss prospects. Tennessee safety Eric Berry was one of those players.

Virginia Tech’s defensive backs coach, Torrian Gray, remembers recruiting Berry when Berry was one of the nation’s top players. The Hokies offered Berry, who starred at Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga., a scholarship based on his highlight film alone.

“He was a national recruit; those guys are easy,” Gray said recently as the Hokies (9-3) prepared to play the Volunteers (7-5) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. “It doesn’t take more than five plays” to notice him.

Gray said he had a copy of Berry’s film in his office, although Berry committed to Tennessee fairly early in the process; his father, James Berry, played running back for the Volunteers from 1978 to 1981. But the spring before Berry’s senior year, Gray said he traveled to Georgia to see the recruit in person at a camp for high school prospects.

“He was just a phenomenal, unbelievable athlete in high school,” Gray said. “I remember watching him practice. He was 190-something [pounds]. He was ripped and built. He had a very mature body for a high school kid, and he’s obviously been able to parlay that into a great college career.”

Berry, winner of the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and an all-American, went on to become Tennessee’s most decorated football player of this decade. He truly was a can’t-miss prospect.

By Mark Viera  |  December 29, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
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