If there’s been one thing Vol fans have been craving over the past couple seasons (besides an SEC East title), it’s been seeing electric kick returner Evan Berry on offense. Vol fans got the tinniest of glimpses at that potential when Berry carried the ball once for six yards against South Carolina last season.
But that has been all the action Berry has seen on offense in his three years at Tennessee. Otherwise, Berry has been mostly used as a kick returner and sometimes at safety.
Butch Jones was asked about the possibility of Berry being used more on offense this season considering the lack of experience on that side of the ball. And Jones didn’t shoot down the idea at all.
“There’s a possibility there,” Jones said of using Evan Berry on offense. “But the first thing we have to do is get Evan’s health back. And that starts at the safety position, starts as a kickoff returner. Obviously you can see him and his role kind of be expanded a little bit on the offensive side of the ball as well (if he gets healthy).
“Evan is a dynamic football player. He’s very special with the ball in his hands, and he possesses good speed.”
Berry was recently named to the Paul Hornug Award watch list, an award given to players who are “versatile, high-level performers in major college football.” In order for Berry to even qualify for the award, he would have to contribute much more on defense this season or be used more on offense. And if Butch Jones’ optimism is to be believed, Vol fans could expect to see Berry on offense in 2017.
Of course, Jones has been asked about that possibility before, and he’s said before there’s a possibility of Berry being used on offense. Yet Berry has just one career carry in his three years as a Vol.
Berry has been arguably the greatest kick returner in Tennessee history. Assuming he stays healthy this season, he could own every kick return record in Vol program history. But he has the potential to be much more than just an elite kick returner.
Time will tell if Evan Berry makes any sort of impact on offense for the Vols this season. But with the lack of experience from Tennessee’s skill positions, using someone with the type of big play ability Berry possesses does make sense. The Vols need to be more versatile on offense, and using Berry would be the perfect way to do that.