Berry gets interception No. 2

Tennessee's most heralded freshman football player turned in another memorable scrimmage performance Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

Certainly, Eric Berry had his bad moments – fumbling the opening kickoff and getting faked out of his jock strap on a Daryl Vereen touchdown run. He also had his golden moments, though, recording five tackles, a pass breakup and a spectacular interception.

Midway through the scrimmage Berry appeared to be beaten by sophomore receiver Austin Rogers on a fly pattern. Berry showed great recovery speed, however, then leaped high to haul in the Erik Ainge bomb before it could reach Rogers' outstretched hands.

Berry, a 5-11, 203-pounder rated the No. 1 cornerback prospect in high school football last fall, also had an interception a week earlier in Tennessee's first full-scale scrimmage of the preseason.

Head coach Phillip Fulmer admitted he is a little surprised "for a freshman to be that mature and do that well."

With a smug grin, the coach added: "Of course, he dropped that first kickoff. We intentionally put those young guys back there to see (how they would handle pressure). It's better to find out now than in the first game against Cal, and I think it will be a great lesson for him. Eric's a football player. He's a darned good football player, and he's way ahead of his years."

Defensive coordinator John Chavis isn't ready to announce Berry as a Game 1 starter but conceded that the flashy freshman will play "a good bit. Right now he's a young guy that's being very, very consistent. He's a big-play guy. He got his hands on some balls tonight, and that was good."

Asked if Berry is the most advanced freshman he has coached, Chavis shrugged.

"At this point he's getting close," the coordinator said. "He's a talent, and we want to make sure he's ready for what we ask him to do. So far, he's responded well."

Here is a complete recap of the scrimmage highlights and lowlights:

Berry got a late jump on the opening kickoff and fumbled while trying to catch it on the dead run.

Defensive end Wes Brown, one of the blockers on kickoff returns, fielded a bloop kick and rambled 20 yards.

Freshman receiver Denarius Moore showed great instincts and speed in returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown … only to have it nullified by an illegal block in the back call at his own 25-yard line.

Arian Foster showed power and cutting ability on a nine-yard burst off tackle.

An ankle-high shotgun snap by Josh McNeil was bobbled by Erik Ainge, resulting in a five-yard sack by end Xavier Mitchell.

Brad Cottam, one of the Vols' two starting tight ends, dropped a perfect throw from Ainge.

Freshman tailback Lennon Creer raced around left end for a nine-yard gain.

No. 2 quarterback Jonathan Crompton showed some speed on a nine-yard scramble up the middle.

Defensive end Robert Ayers showed some speed off the edge in sacking Crompton for a seven-yard loss.

Reserve linebacker Dorian Davis dropped tight end Jeff Cottam for a one-yard loss on a safety-valve pass.

Arian Foster showed nice power on a pile-moving eight-yard run.

Tight end Chris Brown and wideout Lucas Taylor dropped consecutive passes from Ainge that would've gained 10 and 15 yards, respectively.

Cornerback Antonio Gaines made a superb play to break up a pass intended for Quintin Hancock.

Ainge hit wide-open freshman Denarius Moore with a 27-yard touchdown pass. Apparently, someone in the secondary busted an assignment.

Redshirt freshman Daniel Lincoln missed the conversion kick following Moore's TD.

Reserve tight end Luke Stocker dropped a short toss from Crompton.

Juco transfer DeAngelo Willingham, playing cornerback, did a nice job breaking up a Crompton bomb intended for Brent Vinson.

Ayers sacked Crompton for another seven-yard loss.

Crompton hooked up with backup tight end Jeff Cottam for a 17-yard gain.

Dorian Davis stuffed a wingback reverse for a loss of five yards.

Freshman defensive tackle Donald Langley sacked redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Stephens for an eight-yard loss.

Freshman cornerback C. J. Fleming made a spectacular leaping interception of a Stephens bomb intended for freshman Todd Campbell.

Freshman defensive back Anthony Anderson broke up a pass in dynamic fashion with a crunching hit on freshman receiver Ahmad Paige.

Stephens showed off his arm strength by hitting Todd Campbell with a laser-like 22-yard strike.

C.J. Fleming made a nifty pass breakup.

Heralded freshman defensive end Ben Martin suffered a knee injury and was helped from the field. He was taken to UT Hospital for x-rays.

Walk-on tailback Roy Olasimbo burst 10 yards up the gut for a touchdown against the No. 3 defense.

Eric Berry made a nice move to break up a pass from Ainge.

Ainge found Brad Cottam for an 11-yard gain.

Berry made his leaping interception of Ainge's bomb intended for Rogers.

Lucas Taylor, running UT's version of the Arkansas "wildcat package," made an option pitch to Montario Hardesty that gained 18 yards. Taylor then kept on an option keep for a gain of four yards. Tennessee did not use the package again.

Safety Jonathan Hefney made a huge hit on Josh Briscoe, turning a short pass into a loss of three yards.

Austin Rogers got behind juco transfer Nevin McKenzie for a 26-yard reception.

Ainge showed excellent poise, scrambling to buy some time before hitting tight end Chris Brown with a one-yard TD pass.

Flashy freshman tailback Lennon Creer made consecutive runs of 12 and 23 yards. Dorian Davis was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the former, tacking on another 15 yards.

Daniel Lincoln hit a 23-yard field goal.

Crompton hit Jeff Cottam and Denarius Moore for back-to-back gains of 11 and 21 yards.

Freshman tailback Daryl Vereen faked Eric Berry off his feet with a nifty move and scored untouched on a 17-yard burst off left tackle.

Safety Antonio Wardlow blocked a punt by Chad Cunningham.

Stephens hit freshman receiver Gerald Jones with a 12-yard pass.

Olasimbo and freshman receiver Ahmad Paige dropped the first two pass attempts by freshman quarterback B. J. Coleman.

Redshirt freshman linebacker LaMarcus Thompson sacked Crompton for a seven-yard loss.

Lincoln hit consecutive field goals of 28, 33 and 36 yards.

Freshman linebacker Chris Walker, showing quickness in coverage, deflected a pass by Stephens.

Freshman receiver Todd Campbell somehow held on to an eight-yard pass from B.J. Coleman despite being leveled by Wardlow.

Freshman tackle William Brimfield batted down a pass attempt by Stephens.

Reserve linebacker Adam Myers-White dropped Vereen for a loss of three.

Another errant shotgun snap from Josh McNeil resulted in an eight-yard sack of Ainge.

In the two-minute hurry-up offense, Ainge hit Josh Briscoe for 17 yards, then showed great touch on a 16-yard completion to Lennon Creer.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories