HOOVER, Ala. — Eric Berry says being promoted by Tennessee for the Heisman Trophy is “pretty cool,” but that he won’t let it go to his head.
“Just hearing that they wanted to push the campaign for me, that made me feel very good,” the All-America safety said. “I really love the UT staff for doing that. I was all for it. It’s pretty cool. I like it.”
The junior led the Football Bowl Subdivision with seven interceptions last season and his 487 return yards on picks is only 15 shy of the NCAA career record.
But Berry said he still approaches the season “like I’m a freshman trying to earn a spot.”
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The only defensive player ever to win a Heisman was Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson, who coincidentally beat out Vols quarterback Peyton Manning 12 years ago.
“That would be cool being put in the same category as Charles Woodson,” Berry said. “I’d rather be put in the same category as USC or Florida and win the national championship and the SEC championship.”
LSU coach Les Miles said new coordinator John Chavis will have a big impact on the defense.
He expects the offense to improve with quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson — the front-runner to start — and Jarrett Lee both having some more experience.
As result, Miles is expecting much better results than last season’s 3-5 Southeastern Conference record — and he knows Tiger fans are too.
“Eight victories and a bowl win was not enough,” Miles said. “Our football team’s a little more wanting, a little more ambitious. I think that’s spilled into the preparation in the offseason.”
Linebacker Jacob Cutrera said Chavis, a longtime Tennessee defensive coordinator, has brought more intensity to a defense that had uncharacteristic struggles last season. Wanting to erase last year has helped, too.
“In my four years here, we haven’t had a spring like we had this spring,” Cutrera said. “Every practice was so juiced up, so amped up. I think we’ll carry over that into the fall.”
At quarterback, Jefferson is listed atop the depth chart after directing the bowl win.
“He’s bigger and stronger than he has been,” Miles said. “In my opinion, the experience that he had in his true freshman year will benefit him tremendously.”
“Last year as a whole was just flat-out awful. It was such a disappointing season. We put too much into it 365 days a year to come out and win five games.”
Auburn tight end Tommy Trott, on the Tigers’ 5-7 season.