August 05, 2009
Coming out of high school three years ago, Eric Berry was the best player in Georgia, the best DB in the nation and one of the top five prospects at any position. College coaches were camping out in his little brothers' treehouse -- most of them knew his cell phone, his e-mail, his homeroom, his shoe size, his social security number, his license plate number, his handicap in golf, the number of his favorite extra value meal, the most frequently played tracks on his iPod and the stats of his latest dynasty team on that year's edition of NCAA Football. They knew them by heart because, as he's more than proven since, Eric Berry was must-have.
Or so you'd think. But according to Berry himself, that's not quite the vibe he got from Mark Richt when he visited Georgia:
"I guess I just felt like Georgia thought they had me in the bag, and they didn't even know about me and I was in their backyard," Berry explains. "I remember when I went on my recruiting visit, coach (Mark) Richt had my name and stats written on his hand. I guess he thought I didn't see it or something, but I did.
"They were talking to me about playing wide receiver; they didn't even know my position was safety and quarterback. That really made me upset. Coach Kiffin (who then was at Southern Cal), he came with Pete Carroll and the running backs coach and they knew all about me. And I was in Georgia's backyard.
"But all the talk was about Caleb King (now a redshirt sophomore at Georgia battling for a starting job). ... I was just like, 'Dang.' ... I just felt like (they) needed to know a little something about me. A few more phone calls or something."
Cheating on the stats, I can see. I can. Because who outside of a particularly deranged message boarder can remember stats on 30 different kids he may not even recognize outside of their uniforms? But the name, coach? Surely the kid exaggerates.
Unless, of course, Richt was just acknowledging the obvious: Berry's dad was a Vol, and Eric may have been destined for Knoxville from day one. When it comes to prying the other Berry brothers out of the clutches of Rocky Top, though, maybe look into a helpful mnemonic device. (Such as, Even Victors are Allowed Naptime. See? Put those pens away.)
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Hat tip: Chris Low at the Leader.