Who says NFL players can’t keep busy during the lockout? In the course of one week, Eric Berry played in a celebrity golf outing in Knoxville, Tenn., jetted to Los Angeles to film an adidas 5-Star commercial [his network feature debut] and returned to the Volunteer State to host the Eric Berry Elite Defensive Skills Clinic at D1-Knoxville. STACK caught up with the Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl safety between group sessions, but not before the former Vol got in a quick agility and balance workout.
Check out excerpts from our exclusive one-on-one interview below:
On hosting the inaugural Eric Berry Elite Defensive Skills Clinic at D1-Knoxville:
If you want to train to be the best, why not train here? They have the best facilities, and I believe in what they coach. The guys came in with a lot of energy, a lot of fire. They learned a lot, and I felt like they responded very well. I’m just excited to be back in Knoxville and be around the fans and be around a lot of Orange.
On his passion for coaching:
Me and my brothers used to work out together all the time. They’re seven years younger than me. Coming up, I used to do a lot of coaching with them and their friends. I had them in the front yard doing different drills. I like dealing with kids in general, not just coaching. I like talking about life and doing well in school.
On what he emphasizes most when instructing younger athletes:
The main thing I tell the kids is not to get discouraged when they mess up on a play or drill. You’re going to mess up sometimes; I mess up, everybody messes up. The biggest thing is how you bounce back from it.
The example I use is, if you walk around with your head down in a game and you’re going against Peyton Manning, he’s going to see you with your head down and he’s going to keep coming after you. But if you come back strong, break up some passes and show that you’ve got heart, he’ll look for somewhere else to throw.
Try to have that heart and keep trying to persevere through everything. There’s no reason to keep your head down.
On developing his own patented “Two-Step Break” technique:
Me and my roommate, Art Evans, came up with it. “Tap-Tap,” as we would call it. We had a lot of different coaches coming through Tennessee. Some coaches were telling us to T-Plant, some were telling us to bicycle. We were like, "forget it," we’re going to make our own, and we came up with the Tap-Tap. It’s basically just two steps and when you come out of your break, you don’t plant off one foot, you plant off two. I found that helped coming out of your break faster than the T-Plant or bicycle. [Learn more about Berry’s Two-Step Break.]
On being one of the hardest hitters in the NFL:
The biggest thing that helps me out is my preparation in the off-season. I do a lot of Power Cleans, a lot of plyometrics and a lot of explosive work. Power Cleans, you’re exploding from your hips; jumping, you’re exploding from your hips; and tackling, you’re exploding from your hips as well. You’re just wrapping up and exploding more at a horizontal level, more so than vertical. I just let it transfer to the field. And I play pretty mad, too, so that helps.
On his off-season sand training:
Everything is so much harder in the sand: running, keeping your balance, cutting. The sand really gives on you, so you can’t use the base that you have. You don’t have the ground or anything stable to step on, so you have to go against the gravity and the sand. Everything you do takes more force and more power from your legs. Once you get back on the grass, your feet are so much lighter, man, and it feels amazing.
On adjusting to the NFL:
Coming in, you’re trying to figure out how to gauge your speed: "Am I moving too fast, am I moving too slow?" You’re trying to figure out where you fit in and what you need to do on the field. I had the same problem my freshman year.
I found out I made the most plays when I just settled down and realized I’ve done it before. I just let the plays come to me, stayed relaxed on the field, and everything started falling into place.
On being the face of adidas football:
Ever since I played at UT, I’ve always loved adidas, man. I wore a different brand growing up, but as soon as I got to Tennessee and wore the cleats and played in them, I just felt that was my brand. I feel like that brand represents me as an athlete. The brand has been around for a long time, it’s original, not too flashy, but it gets the job done. I feel privileged and honored that they want me to be the face of the brand.
Closing thoughts on the camp:
I just want to thank D1 for allowing me to run the camp here. It’s been a great pleasure and honor to have kids come here and work out, and I’m very thankful for that. I want to thank Knoxville, Atlanta, thank my teammates for coming out and helping me as well.