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It’s official: Berry heading to the NFL

One of the worst-kept secrets in college football became a reality last night as Tennessee’s All-American safety, Eric Berry announced he was leaving a year of collegiate eligibility on the table and making himself available for the 2010 NFL draft.

Berry made the proclamation shortly after the Vols’ 37-14 loss to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

I chose to go ahead and enter the draft following the year,” Berry said. “I really did go over every possible situation, scenario that I could, went over it with coach (Lane Kiffin), went over it with my parents, and you know coach just told me this would probably be the best thing for me to do is enter the draft.

“It’s really hard. I think that’s why it took me so long to come out here, I had to kind of get myself together because I really don’t want to leave, but I feel like it’s just something I need to do to help my family. Just to see how hard my parents worked over the past 18 years, and raising my brothers, I feel like this is something I can do to help them just sit down and relax and show my appreciation for what they’ve done for me.”

In the end, Berry really no other choice but to forego his senior season. He’s a mortal lock to be a top-five pick in the draft and, when combined with the looming specter of a rookie salary cap on the minds of every eligible underclassman this year, it really was a no-brainer.