Football has been a huge part of the Berry family for years, but this offseason has had a different feel as former Vol and current Kansas City Chief Eric Berry has battled a treatable form of Hodgkins Lymphoma, which he was officially diagnosed with on Dec. 8, 2014.
Younger brother Evan Berry has been battling to carve a role of his own on Tennessee’s defense, but has also been in regular contact with Eric as he goes through treatments.
“It’s good,” Evan said of his older brother’s progress. “He’s doing really good. I think he has three more treatments left and to be honest, I don’t really see it affecting him. He’s a very strong person and he’s just continuing to keep strong.
“It was obviously scary when I heard about it, but when I talked to him, he wasn’t worried, so I wasn’t worried.”
When they aren’t talking about Berry’s treatments, Evan said Eric is giving him advice on what to do on the field. Evan Berry settled into a role as UT’s starting kickoff returner in 2014, but coaches are looking for him to take another step by improving at safety this spring, a spot where he can be a solid backup in 2015 and likely a starter in 2016.
“Really just keep my head because every player in the SEC is good and you’ll get beat sometimes,” Evan said of what Eric tells him. “But it’s 80 plays in a game on defense and you just have to keep fighting and make plays.”
And after he picked off a couple passes in Saturday’s scrimmage, senior safety Brian Randolph hinted that, when he gets going, that Evan is looking a little bit more like Eric.
“It’s obviously a good compliment,” Evan said. “It just feels good, especially getting that compliment from him, because I look up to him, as he did to my brother and it was just a good compliment – it felt good.”