SEC Power Poll: All-SEC Safeties

Check out the Complete All-SEC Team at Team Speed Kills!

SEC Power Poll

All-SEC Selections: Safeties

Well, due to a complete lack of judgment on the part of the SEC Power Poll brain-trust, Gate 21 has been selected to announce the Power Poll All-SEC Team selections at safety.  The rest of the defensive positions are being announced today across the blogosphere as well.  Be sure to check them out:

And in case you didn’t get a chance to catch the offensive selections, they are already available at Team Speed Kills.

The envelope, please…

The 2008 Power Poll All-SEC Selections at Safety are: Eric Berry (Tennessee) and Rashad Johnson (Alabama).  The reasons behind these should be obvious, but in case they aren’t here’s why these two fine athletes are in a class of their own:


Eric Berry • 14

Tennessee Volunteers

5’11” • 195 • Sophomore • Safety

What can you really say about Eric Berry that hasn’t already been said?

This deep-ball predator is the sound of pain to backs and receivers in the open field, and a quarterback’s worst nightmare.  This defensive terror has amassed nearly every accolade possible in his two seasons at Tennessee.  He has broken almost every record for interceptions, some of which had stood for a very long time.  Berry holds records for most interceptions at UT in a single season (which previously stood for 37 years), most career interceptions at UT (39 years), SEC record for most interceptions in a season (52 years) and SEC most career interceptions (59 years).  He was named freshman defensive player of the year in 2007, as well as Freshman All-American.  As of the end of the 2008 season, he is 14 yards shy of breaking the NCAA all-time record for career interception return yardage of 501 yards (which has stood since 1989-91).  Most recently, he also garnered unanimous All-American honors.  On top of all of this he can now add one more prize to his trophy case:

Unanimous Selection: 2008 SEC Power Poll All-SEC Team

Oh, and, yes, he is just a sophomore…

Thus, it is understandable why some are already viewing Berry as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate for 2009 and 2010.  In my Sports Blog Heisman Ballot, I quoted an article which I believe describes Berry’s style of play about as well as any I’ve ever read:

The Vols’ athletic outlier plays the game like it’s on a sheet of ice and he’s the only one that brought skates. … Berry is the flower that’s sprouted in a compost heap of a year.

As a result, of Berry’s punishing style of play, the Vols’ defense finished 4th in the country in total defense, despite having a less than stellar record. Even more impressive, however, is Berry’s never quit attitude on the field (even when down by 20-plus points) and his ability to dish out some mammoth hits.  But don’t take my word for it just give these a look (or ask Knowshon Moreno)…

Eric Berry vs. Knowshon Moreno

Eric Berry vs. the World

Berry’s statistics through the end of the 2008 regular season are:

Year

G

UT

AT

TT

SCK

TFL

FF

FR

PBU

2007 14 57 29 86 - 2 1 2 4
2008 12 44 28 72 1.5 7 - - 6
Totals 26 101 57 158 1.5 9 1 2 1

Int. Returns

KO Returns

Year

G

No

Yds

TD

No

Yds

TD

2007 14 5 222 1 - - -
2008 12 7 265 2 2 32 0
Totals 26 12 487 3 2 32 0

Rushing

Receiving

Year

G

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

No

Yds

Avg

TD

2007 14 - - - - - - - -
2008 12 7 37 5.3 0 1 3 3.0 0
Totals 26 7 37 5.3 0 1 3 3.0 0
I can only imagine what the SEC will see from Berry next season.  Either way, I’d be scared.

Rashad Johnson • 49

Alabama Crimson Tide

6’0” • 186 • Senior • Safety

Rashad Johnson started out as a walk on in Tuscaloosa, played under 2 different coaches, and singlehandedly willed himself into becoming one of the top safeties in the country.  This Alabama native ended with 5 interceptions on the season including the game-winning grab against the LSU Tigers in overtime.  His stats pretty much speak for themselves, and paint a picture of a young man in a hurry … to get to the ball that is.

Johnson capped off his senior season by being named 1st team All-American by the AFCA and 2nd team by the Walter Camp, Sporting News, and Associated Press voters as a safety.  This “converted” running back can now add SEC Power Poll All-SEC to his resume as well.

Now, Johnson has the pleasure of looking forward to an NFL career, as numerous teams have shown an interest.  As one of the senior leaders for Alabama this season, he will be sorely missed in 2009.  For now, however, he’s one of the Pride of the Tide.

Here’s a few highlights from Johnson’s senior campaign:

How the West was Won: Alabama vs. LSU

Johnson’s statistics through the end of the 2008 regular season are:

Tackles

Fumbles

Pass

Year

G-S

TT

UT

AT

TFL

QBH

Sacks

FF

FR

PBU

Int

2005 12-0 8 5 3 0-0 0 0-0 1 0-0 0 0-0
2006 11-4 33 22 11 1.5-4 0 0-0 2 0-0 0 0-0
2007 13-13 94 57 38 5.5-9 2 1.0-1 1 0-0 8 6-64
2008 13-13 82 55 27 5.0-15 0 1.0-7 1 1-0 11 5-125
Totals 49-30 217 139 79 12-18 2 2.0-8 5 1 19 11-268


The Rest of All-SEC Team

You can check out the rest of the Power Poll All-SEC Team by visiting Team Speed Kills, where the complete team rundown will be posted Friday-ish.

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: UT SportsRollTide.com

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