Way back in 1997, Peyton Manning was by far the best quarterback in the country(just ask Ryan Leaf), and arguably, the best football player. When he announced that he was returning for his senior season, Volunteer fans the world over rejoiced.
They would finally have a Heisman winner.
Manning was such a lock for the award that no one even needed to see him perform that year.
But a less-than-spectacular game against Florida, a team he NEVER beat, and the awardwas later lost to Charles Woodson.
Woodson was, incidentally, the last defensive player to win the award.
Fast forward to 2009.
Although the campaign doesn't officially begin until Sept. 5, Eric Berry is already a dark horse for the Heisman. To say that he's arguably the best defensive player in the country is to understate.
He plays with electricity. He has a nose for the football, something defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, has noticed from day one, calling him the best defensive football player he's ever seen.
The course is set, and all Berry has to do is run it. He takes an underdog Tennessee team into The Swamp to take on Tim Tebow and Florida.
Now, let's just say he intercepts Tebow and maybe returns it for a touchdown. Or, what about popping Tebow in a collision that would send tremors throughout the entire southeastern United States?
Would that be enough? One game?
Let's go back to 1997.
Charles Woodson was a relative unknown. If you didn't follow Big 10 football, you didn't hear a whole lot about him until the Ohio State game.
Woodson was the sole reason Michigan beat the Buckeyes, intercepting a pass in the end zone, returning a punt for a touchdown and making a huge catch that set up the only Wolverines score offensively.
In the biggest games of their respective seasons, Woodson showed up and won, and Manning didn't.
Its been said that 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water, and the rest is covered by Eric Berry. That Tim Tebow wears Eric Berry pajamas.
Get familiar with these silly sayings.
Because if Berry has a big game against Florida, he may just be on his way to winning the Heisman.
And, winning the award would be a redemption of sorts for Tennessee fans when it come to the Heisman. They've had two runner-up finishes. Johnny Majors in 1958, and Manning.
Berry winning the award would be an homage of sorts to both Woodson and Manning. Woodson for the obvious reason that both were/are defensive players, and Woodson was a junior when he won the award.
Berry is a junior this season.
Here's another silly saying for you. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
With two runner-up finishes in the Heisman voting, maybe this is Tennessee's year to break through. Maybe this is the year that Tennessee can get that Heisman monkey off their backs.
Maybe the third time really is the charm.