Not-so-secret weapon

There are four good reasons for Tennessee safety Eric Berry to play exclusively on defense in 2008:

1. The Big Orange averaged 32.5 points per game last year without him.

2. When the Vols went to their direct-snap package last fall, receiver Gerald Jones did a quality job as the fill-in at tailback.

3. Berry is so valuable as a defensive back that he started all 14 games and earned Freshman All-America honors in 2007.

4. He'll be playing virtually every snap on defense this fall, so fatigue could become an issue.

There are two reasons for Eric Berry to get a few snaps on offense, however, that may override all of the above:

- He might be the Vols' most dangerous player in the open field.

- Head coach Phillip Fulmer promised a chance to play offense when he was recruiting Berry out of Creekside High in Fairburn, Ga., two years ago.

That last item could be the determining factor in his bid to be a two-way player this fall.

"Coach Fulmer is a man of his word," Berry said. "Up to now he's kept every promise."

Fulmer was so determined to be upfront with Berry during the recruiting process that he refused to promise him a starting job ... just playing time.

"He didn't just give me a spot," Berry recalled. "He said I would get an opportunity to play, and I had to take advantage of that."

Since Fulmer has kept all of his promises to date, Berry believes the head man will honor the vow to provide a few offensive snaps for his sensational sophomore safety.

"He's all about being a man of his word," Berry said, "so I trust him on that."

Even playing solely on defense, Berry recorded some of the Vols' most spectacular runs of 2007. He returned a fumble 52 yards against South Carolina and ran back five interceptions a total of 222 yards, including a 96-yard TD jaunt at Florida.

Asked what he would bring to Tennessee's offense, Berry smiled softly before answering:

"I feel like I bring energy, dynamics – just as I try to do for the defensive side. That's pretty much it. That's all you need is excitement and dynamics."


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