A bigger Berry

It's difficult to imagine what kind of player Tennessee safety Eric Berry would be if he stood 6-feet-4 and weighed 312 pounds. But Vol teammate Nick Reveiz thinks he has a pretty good idea.

Reveiz suspects Berry would closely resemble Vol newcomer Montori Hughes, who really does stand 6-4 and weigh 312 pounds. The massive man/child from Murfreesboro has been the surprise of spring practice – sacking quarterbacks, chasing down running backs and looking a lot more like a 21-year-old junior than an 18-year-old freshman. His rare blend of agility and physical maturity reminds Reveiz of a young Berry, who came in and started every game as a UT freshman two years ago.

"Montori has the most ability I've seen ... well, him and Eric are about tied," Reveiz said following Friday's scrimmage at Neyland Stadium. "I've never seen someone come in like that and just perform, but he really has.

"He's so physically ready. I've never seen someone come in like that. And he also works. He has a good intensity about it. He really goes to work every single day, so I'm really proud of him."

Berry, who earned All-America recognition as a sophomore last fall, is just as amazed by Hughes' accomplishments this spring.

"When he first came in he was kind of out of shape and whatever but he's a straight baller," Berry said. "He makes plays everywhere – anywhere on the field – and he's always hustling. He was a big surprise."

No one has been more surprised by Hughes' performance this spring than Tennessee's head coach.

"When we got him he was so out of shape he couldn't even come close to going through a conditioning drill," Lane Kiffin recalled. "He almost quit ... you know, the usual story (for a freshman away from home for the first time)."

At some point during offseason workouts, though, Hughes stopped being a boy in a man's body and started being a budding superstar.

"He just really changed his attitude," Kiffin said. "He's really gone about it. He's one of those guys that has the look. When you see him out there, that's what the real guys look like. It's pretty special that he's only a freshman."

No Vol is more pleased by Hughes' progress than Reveiz. As Tennessee's middle linebacker, he depends on Hughes and fellow tackle Dan Williams to keep opposing blockers off of him. They generally do, which makes Reveiz's job a whole lot easier.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "It's a lot more free movement. There's a lot of times I can just fly around. I really didn't even get touched a lot of times, and I give them the credit.

"They're holding two guys for me, just so I can run around. That's incredible. That's sacrifice right there, so I can't praise those guys enough."

Especially Montori Hughes, the up-sized version of Eric Berry.

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