Lott Trophy Names Berry National Player of the Week, Then Makes Him Semifinalist

Nov. 11, 2009

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - Tennessee safety Eric Berry has become quite a familiar name to the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation.

Wednesday, the group named the Vols junior its Lott Trophy IMPACT National Player of the Week for the second time this season. And then later in the day, Berry was selected one of eight semifinalists for the 2009 Lott Trophy and the only repeat nominee from a year ago.

The 5-11, 195-pounder from Fairburn, Ga., had an interception, a fumble recovery and five tackles in Tennessee's 56-28 win over Memphis. Berry previously was honored in Week 3 after the Vols tough loss at Florida in which he had 11 tackles, including two for lost yardage, and an interception.

"Berry can flat out play," said former Auburn head coach Pat Dye, a member of the Legends Coaches who select the players of the week. "He can dominate a team from the defensive side of the ball, which is awfully hard to do. He's the best safety in the country, in my opinion."

Tennessee will receive another $1,000 for its general scholarship fund in recognition of Berry's achievement.

2009 Lott Trophy IMPACT Players of the Week
Week 1 - Mike Nixon, Arizona State
Week 2 - Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
Week 3 - Eric Berry, Tennessee
Week 4 - Pat Angerer, Iowa
Week 5 - Taylor Mays, USC
Week 6 - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
Week 7 - Rolando McClain, Alabama Week 9 - Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
Week 10 - Eric Berry, Tennessee

The list for the season-ending trophy that honors the nation's top defensive player includes two safeties, two defensive tackles, one linebacker and three defensive ends.

Berry was a semifinalist last year. Others named to this year's list are: Southern California safety Taylor Mays, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndaumkong Suh, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, Texas defensive end Sam Acho, Texas Christian defensive end Jerry Hughes, and South Carolina defensive end Eric Norwood.



Ballots will be sent to more than 300 members of the Lott Trophy National Voter Panel, a list that includes Hall of Fame coaches and players, select members of the media and distinguished business leaders throughout the country.

The four finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and they will travel to the sixth annual Lott Trophy Banquet in Newport Beach, Calif., where the winner will be announced Dec. 13.

Berry has 14 career interceptions and 494 return yards, second most in NCAA history. He was a consensus All-America and SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season, and has been named Lott Player of the Week twice this season and once in 2008.

"That guy is one of the most dominant players in the country," said former UCLA head coach Terry Donahue, a member of the IMPACT Foundation Board of Directors. "There is no better safety in college football today."

Past winners of The Lott Trophy
2004 - David Pollack, Georgia
2005 - DeMeco Ryans, Alabama
2006 - Dante Hughes, California
2007 - Glenn Dorsey, LSU
2008 - James Laurinaitis, Ohio State

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin once again stressed the Vols' improving health after the team's indoor practice Wednesday evening.

"I thought there was great energy today, better than yesterday," Kiffin said. "Yesterday just seemed to be OK. They came out today, and we challenged them."

The Vols play Ole Miss in Oxford on Saturday at 11 a.m. Central time, with the Vol Network and CBS carrying the broadcast.

In the injury report, Kiffin said senior offensive guard Jacques McClendon was slowed some by a foot injury suffered last week against Memphis but expects him to play in Saturday's game. He added that freshman defensive back Darren Myles Jr. was limited in practice.

Kiffin said the team is mostly healthy, which is good news considering it is November. He said "healthy" was a relative term because several Vols who have gone down with season-ending injuries, particularly junior middle linebackers Nick Reveiz and Savion Frazier.

"We've lost a few guys for the season, so when we say we're healthy, we're healthy with the guys we have out there," Kiffin said. "Losing the two middle linebackers has been really tough on us because the position did not have a lot of depth. I'm glad the way the guys have stepped up and really played together."

Kiffin said a lot of credit goes to junior Eric Berry. The All-America defensive back is second on the team with 62 tackles and five tackles for loss. He also has two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

"Eric Berry really has carried us by having to change him around and doing so many different things with him," Kiffin said.



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