All-Pro Returner ‘Was Very Close To Going To Tennessee’

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    All pro return specialist and former University of Miami receiver Braxton Berrios heavily considered Tennessee out of high school. This week in an interview on the Pardon My Take podcast, Berrios detailed just how close he was to choosing the Vols over the Hurricanes.

    “I was very close to going to Tennessee,” Berrios said. “I was very close to going to Tennessee. Honestly, what won Miami was that my dad is from Miami and I grew up a Miami fan. I grew up a Hurricane, Dolphins fan, all that. Really, loyalty is what won me over.”

    The Raleigh, North Carolina native was a four-star coming out of Leesville Road High School in the 2014 signing class according to 247sports composite rankings.

    Berrios took visits to Oregon, Miami and South Carolina before waiting a month to make his final visit to Tennessee. Leaning heavily towards Miami, Butch Jones and the new Tennessee staff gave the receiver a lot to think about.

    “I went to Knoxville and it was the Tennessee/Georgia game,” Berrios said. “It was the checkered game, Neyland was checkered and there’s 107,000, it went into overtime. Tennessee ended up winning, I think. As good as it could have been on a visit— it was. It just also happened to be my birthday that weekend too.”

    Eight years later, Berrios memory of the game has faded a bit. His visit occurred at the 2013 Georgia game, a full year before Tennessee “Checkered Neyland” for the first time. Tennessee fell to the Bulldogs in overtime and while Neyland Stadium doesn’t seat 107,000 it was a sell out crowd of 102,455.

    Still, it’s obvious Tennessee left a big impact on the receiver, but obviously it wasn’t enough to beat out his favorite school.

    “That was my last visit,” Berrios said. “It was like Oct. 6 that weekend and then the 12th is when I committed. After that, I was like ‘oh, man’. It was awesome. It was a college — not powerhouse necessarily — but it was hard to beat Neyland Stadium.”

    Berrios had a solid college career, totaling 100 catches, 1,175 yards and 14 touchdowns in his four year career. The slot receiver was average his first three years in school, but broke out in Miami’s strong 2017 season. Berrios totaled 55 catches for 617 yards and nine touchdowns in his final collegiate season.

    After a lackluster few years in the NFL, Berrios has found a major role on the New York Jets. His biggest role is as a return specialist, averaging 30 yards per kick return and housing a kick on his way to earning All Pro honors.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.