Tennessee true freshman Evan Berry has been telling Butch Jones he needs the ball in his hands. With the Vols holding a comfortable lead against the Mocs on Saturday and starting kick returner Devrin Young (ribs) out, he got his chance to show him what he can do.
With his older brother Eric Berry watching from the stands, Evan Berry took the opening kickoff of the second half back 68 yards – reversing field, finding the edge and even leaping over a UTC player at the end to get a few extra yards. It set up a quick touchdown for the Vols that gave them a commanding 31-3 lead early in the second half and complete control of the game in what went on to be a 45-10 victory for Tennessee.
“He did a great job and now he’s got to find out how to finish,” said Butch Jones. “Evan’s got a great element of speed with great confidence and our players believe in him. You start the second half with a big splash play, a big momentum play and we did a great job of turning it into seven points and that’s always big to set the temperament, to set the tone in the second half.
“Evan has been doing it in practice. He’s in my hip pocket every week. He wants the ball in his hands. Again, he’s done that in practice, but now to do it in a game, [the return] gives that unit great confidence.”
And with Young’s status uncertain going forward and the Vols needing any kind of spark they can get to help out an offense that has struggled against talented defenses, Berry very well may get more opportunities. While still officially classified as a defensive back, he also got some work at running back last week in practice. He clearly showed what kind of explosiveness he can bring to the field and that’s something UT would be wise to utilize him going forward.
“It’s not really hard to be patient,” Berry said. “The coaches and everyone on the field tell me ‘you are a play away.’ If anything happens you just gotta be ready. Time came and I was ready.”