James Berry’s kids always have been precocious. But committing to a college football program in middle school?
Evan Berry, the 13-year-old brother of Tennessee All-American safety Eric Berry, caused an Internet stir when he told Rivals.com he was committing to play for the Vols.
In fact, Tennessee cannot offer a scholarship until a prospect’s junior year of high school. So there’s no offer for Evan — a rising 8th-grader at Bear Creek Middle School in Fairburn — to accept.
That didn’t stop him, however. “‘I’m committing’ — those were his words,” James Berry said Tuesday. “He loves being at Tennessee (for practices and games), but the way I look at it is he’s 13 years old and he’s got I don’t know how many more years to decide. It’s not the first time I’ve heard him say he’s going to Tennessee.”
Tennessee and other bigtime programs likely will be interested in Evan and his twin brother, Elliott. Both are talented football players and sprinters. Elliott is already 5-foot-11, 165 pounds; Evan is 5-8, 152.
“They’re hard workers and they love what they’re doing,” James Berry said, noting Evan is probably faster than his All-American brother was at this stage. “Eric didn’t run track until his sophomore year of high school, so Evan is ahead of the game. He’s a natural ballhawk, loves playing defense. He’s probably not the hitter Eric is, but as far as instinct and breaking to the ball, he’s on cue.”
Eric Berry, a rising junior, tied for the lead nationally with seven interceptions last season.
His dad, who played running back at Tennessee in the late 1970s, coaches the twins on the Fairburn Flames.
Evan plays quarterback and safety; Elliott plays running back and linebacker. Not to be shut out of the recruiting spotlight, Elliott “says he’s partial to LSU,” James Berry said. The twins have one more year at Bear Creek Middle School before they go to Creekside High.