Posted: 2:40 pm Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Tennessee gets a verbal commitment….. from an 8th grader 

By Post Staff

If you see the words “eighth-grader gives a verbal commitment,” and you don’t immediately think of the words “Lane Kiffin,” then you simply haven’t been paying attention over the last seven months.

Kiffin’s Tennessee football program finds itself in the national headlines once again today, though not for a negative reason. Instead, it’s because 13-year-old Evan Berry of Fairburn, Ga. told that he has verbally committed to the Volunteers for the CLASS OF 2013 (let that one sink in for a minute).

“Yes, I committed to Tennessee,” the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Berry told the recruiting Web site. “It’s the only college I know right now and it seems the best for me. My dad went there and my brother is there now. I know I can do the same things there. I have a real friendly relationship with the coaches there. I know I don’t know them too well, but I know I will have plenty of time to get to know them.”

Of course, his commitment doesn’t mean squat right now. The Volunteers cannot offer him a scholarship yet, per NCAA rules, and verbal commitments are of course non-binding. Berry won’t even play his first year of high school football until this fall, where he hopes to play quarterback and safety at Creekside High.

But the story is interesting because of Berry’s bloodlines. His brother is Tennessee safety Eric Berry, a true junior who was a consensus First Team All-America last year and should be a top NFL Draft pick in 2010.

“Evan plays on a different level than everyone else,” said his father, James Berry . “He’s a technician with the ball in his hands. He just fits at quarterback and at safety. He’s quick and fast and has a natural instinct for handling the ball.”

Evan has a twin brother, Elliot, who hopes to play linebacker this fall at Creekside.

“I coached all three to this stage and I can say that Evan and Elliot are further along than Eric was at 13,” James Berry said. “They are such gifted athletes. I don’t want to sound like the dad who’s always bragging, but they are. They are blessed. I am blessed. And I am so proud of all my boys. But the thing I am most proud of is that they are such good students.”