UT should expect battle for Berry twins

JEFFERSON, Ga. -- Fraternal twins Evan and Elliot Berry (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) have yet to play a down of their junior seasons. Evan says he is not yet driving, and Elliot says he has a lot to work on as a player. Yet for more than three years, the Berry twins have dealt with being the first notable FBS prospects in the 2014 class, thanks to a certain NFL Pro Bowl safety who has praised the brothers since they were in middle school.

Former Tennessee Volunteers star Eric Berry, who now plays safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, honored his younger brothers with a tattoo of each, one on the inside of each of his arms, and proclaimed in 2008 that the two were more advanced than he was at the same age.

Elliot, the elder of the twins by two minutes, is well aware of the early spotlight.

“I think my brother might have been exaggerating a little bit when he said we would be better than him, because that is a pretty bold statement,” Elliot said. “Maybe he knows something I don’t.”

Five years ago, recruiting fans around the country were surprised to hear that Evan, then 10 years old, committed to the Vols alongside his older brother Eric, the No. 4 prospect in the 2007 class. Three years later, then a rising ninth-grader, Evan reiterated his intentions to play for Tennessee, telling the media that he planned to follow in Eric’s footsteps. Fast-forward to 2012 and the surprise is not which five schools have offered the rising junior, or even which one was first. The twist is which school has yet to make the Creekside standout a target.

“I have offers from Auburn, Alabama, LSU, UGA and Georgia Tech,” Evan said.

The Bulldogs caught Evan off guard by beating the Volunteers to the punch.

“Rodney Garner from Georgia was the first to offer and he told me there will always be a spot for me at Georgia,” Evan said. “I did not expect them to be first, though. I thought Tennessee would probably be the one. It was exciting because a lot of kids do not get a chance to play for a big school like that. For them to say they like me enough to play for them, that is big.”

Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Middle Tennessee, South Carolina and Tennessee are just a few of the programs that sent assistant coaches to Creekside to check on the twin 2014 prospects in the past month. With almost two years to go before their signing day arrives, the brothers are cautious not to put too much value into their recruitment just yet.

"Eric told me verbal offers do not mean anything, so not to get sucked into the talk,” Evan said.

And Elliot added: “I do have verbal offers, but I am taking that with a grain of salt until the written offers come in."

Evan recently placed third in the Georgia High School Association Track and Field Class AAAA 100-meter championship with a time of 10.67 seconds, and fourth in the 200 with a time of 21.77 seconds. He feels his speed gives him a chance to excel at defensive back at the next level.

Elliot, a member of the championship 400-meter relay team, is not sure where he will fit in at the next level, but the 6-foot, 195-pound prospect knows where he would like to improve as a junior.

“I am an athlete that just likes playing football and being around my teammates,” Elliot said. “I like sacking the quarterback, but I also enjoy playing running back. I want to improve my ball skills -- because I really cannot catch -- and my man-to-man coverage for the most part.”

Elliot recorded 14 sacks last year.

The brothers plan to camp at Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee this summer.

“I want to find a place where I am comfortable, so that is what I want to check out at Georgia and find out,” Evan said.

Last September, Eric, the Chiefs’ star defensive back, suffered a torn ACL, ending his season in the first week. Elliot said his big brother has always taught him to play hard and never back down from a challenge, and it appears that the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award winner is taking his own advice to heart.

“After Eric got hurt, he immediately began working hard in his rehab and actually came back from it in four months,” Elliot said. “He is working out in Florida right now and he said he is faster than he was before.”

That is bad news for the rest of the AFC West.