By Alex Norman
On a beautiful late spring weekend, around 125 kids showed up at Grace Christian Academy for the Eric Berry D1 Iron Sharpens Iron Football Camp.
For Berry, a former Tennessee Vols All-American, camps like this one are a look into the future for when his National Football League playing days are done.
“This is something I’ll do well after I retire,” said Berry. “I love the game; love being around the game… it is something I enjoy. Just seeing kids develop into the players they want to be. Not only that… but just having fun out here as well is always a good thing. I just like being around the kids. The energy is always pure. They have no incentive to play football… they just play because they love it. Always good to come out here and get those vibes and see why we really play the game.”
Eric Berry was one of the most popular players in the recent history of Tennessee football. So it is no surprise that he stays connected to Knoxville and the Vols. This off-season, Berry has also spent some time on the UT campus, getting to know new Vols coach Butch Jones.
“I’m very excited to have him here at Tennessee. He has a genuine passion for the game, a passion for getting that connection with his players. That’s what you need to win games,” said Berry. “He has been upholding the tradition and trying to do things the right way.”
Berry added, “To be honest with you, I just think he is a good guy. Aside from coaching, aside from everything he does with football I think he is a good guy. Anytime you have a guy like that who has good values you can always expect the best out of him.”
Will Berry’s two younger brothers, twins Elliot and Evan, follow in the footsteps of Eric and their father James and play for the Vols? They are both being wooed by major Division 1 programs, including Tennessee. Eric has been able to pass along some good advice about the recruiting process.
“They saw pretty much saw what I went through,” said Berry. “It’s the little things, trying to keep a level head through it. Teams are recruiting everyone around the country. I just try to get them to take it for what it is. Don’t get caught up in all the compliments and the better as players and students.”
This Fall Berry will start his fourth season with the Kansas City Chiefs. This past spring his team signed former Vols quarterback Tyler Bray to a free agent contract. So far, Berry likes what he’s seen from Bray.
“He’s just been up there working. He’s understanding what it takes to be a pro, watching a lot of film,” said Berry. “I always felt he was an NFL quarterback. Just to see him grow up and mature that is a cool thing. I actually helped recruit him (to Tennessee) so we were cool before. So it is even cooler that we are on the same team. I think he has big things in his future.”
Berry went to the Pro Bowl last year but the Chiefs really struggled. They finished 2-14, the worst record in the NFL. Berry is hopeful that this upcoming season will be one of significant improvement.
“Last year was rough, but it laid the foundation for what we needed for this year,” said Berry. “We got a good core group of guys and a lot of talent, but at the end of the day we gel good together as a team. As long as we keep playing ball and keep getting better every day, the sky is the limit.”
And certainly some Vols fans will be rooting for them.