Heisman hype

Tennessee's sports information department launched a full-scale Heisman Trophy campaign for Peyton Manning in 1997 but the Vol quarterback still finished second to Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson.

Now that there's talk of a Heisman campaign for UT safety Eric Berry, you wonder: Would the Vol junior welcome such a gesture?

"Yeah, that's something I'd like," he admitted earlier this week. "Right now I'm just trying to focus on the season. Dealing with that (Heisman hype), too, would be kind of tough but I think I could handle it."

For all of his brilliance as a football player, Berry is a long-shot to win the Heisman. Offensive players won 73 of the first 74 awards, with Woodson being the lone exception to date. And Woodson probably wouldn't have won in '97 if he hadn't gained added exposure by doubling as a wide receiver and kick-return specialist that season.

Berry understands that being strictly a defensive player hurts his chance to finish on top in the Heisman balloting.

"It's possible but in this day and age fans like to see offense," he said. "They like to see big points. They like to see quarterbacks throwing for thousands and thousands of yards. It's just pretty much an offensive game."

Although he recognizes that there is not likely to be a Heisman Trophy in his future, Berry noted that, "As long as my team is winning, I'm happy."

For what it's worth, one SEC player who already has a Heisman is on record saying Berry is the league's premier player. That comment came from Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, winner of the 2007 Heisman.

"I didn't see that," Berry said when told of Tebow's remark. "That's a big compliment coming from him. He's a Heisman Trophy winner, won a national championship. What more can you say? I truly respect that guy and I respect him for saying that.

"I never thought he would think of me like that but that's pretty cool."

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