In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and count down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.
Eric Berry, No. 4 in 2007 class
Berry came out of Creekside High in Fairburn, Georgia,. as the most highly coveted cornerback prospect in the 2007 class. While he had offers from USC, Ohio State and many others nationally, he ultimately picked Tennessee over Georgia and Auburn due to a strong relationship with then-Volunteers coach Phil Fulmer and staff. Berry was a member of a top five class for the Volunteers.
As a true freshman, Berry recorded 86 tackles, five interceptions and two tackles for loss in 14 starts earning 2007 SEC Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, All-SEC second team by the league coaches and numerous Freshman All-American honors.
The 2008 season would be Berry’s best in Knoxville. In 12 starts he recorded 72 tackles, nine tackles for loss, seven INT’s and three sacks, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, All-SEC first-team, unanimous All-American and the Jack Tatum Award.
As a junior, Berry made 83 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two INT’s in 12 starts. He was once again tabbed All-SEC first team, unanimous All-American and took home the prestigious Jim Thorpe Award as well as being a finalist for the Lott Award and Bronko Nagurski Award.
Berry chose to forgo his final season of eligibility following the 2009 season. He left Tennessee with 38 starts in 38 games played, 241 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 14 interceptions.
Berry was selected No. 5 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2010 NFL draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl three of his first four years before being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early December.
Honorable mention: Andre Smith, No. 4 in 2006 class. Smith was two-time first-team All-SEC and All-American at Alabama before being taken No. 6 overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Dre Kirkpatrick, No. 4 in 2009 class. Kirkpatrick was a two-time All-SEC second-team pick at Alabama before being selected No. 17 overall in the 2012 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Mackensie Alexander, No. 4 in 2013 class, and Myles Garrett, No. 4 in 2014 class, are future NFL draft choices with high pick potential.