For the second year in a row, Evan Berry suffered a season-ending injury and the latest setback will end the senior returner's storied Tennessee career.
The best kickoff returner in school history hurt his arm/shoulder on a return in the win over Southern Miss, coach Butch Jones announced Monday.
“Unfortunately Evan Berry will be out for the season,” Jones said. “I give him a lot of credit for working his way back and getting himself back ready to go.”
Berry has battled knee injuries the last two seasons, missing four games in 2016 after tearing his ACL and playing in just three games this fall due to reoccurring knee problems.
Berry had two explosive returns (35, 51 yards) in the opener against Georgia Tech, but missed the next six games before playing again last weekend at Kentucky.
On Saturday, he flashed his electric ability, returning the opening kickoff 46 yards. Berry finishes his Tennessee career as the all-time leader in return average (34.3 yards) and just 35 yards short of Willie Gault’s record for kickoff return yardage (1,854 yards).
The younger brother of former Vol star Eric Berry and son of James Berry is also tied with Gault for most return touchdowns (4). Berry had his best season in 2015, averaging a whopping 38.3 yards per return — easily the best mark in the nation and just narrowly missing the best season in NCAA history (38.32).
He earned All-American honors and returned three kicks for touchdowns. The reserve safety also added a 100-yard interception return for a score in Tennessee’s blowout win over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
“You saw that on Saturday night. He can change field position in a hurry,” Jones said, reminiscing on Berry’s career.
“He’s a threat every time he gets his hand on the ball. He’s a threat to score. Just his will to get back and play his senior year and the want to be out there and help this football team win, I think it speaks volumes for him.”