KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones opened the door to elite kick return man Evan Berry playing on offense, but only slightly.
Jones was asked about putting Berry in an offensive role by a caller on his coaches show, Vol Calls, Wednesday night at Calhoun’s on The River.
“We need to get Evan Berry back healthy and there’s a lot of things that are going on, on the practice field, that people don’t see and his role is continuing to grow defensively,” Jones said. “You’ll see him playing a lot more on defense.”
Berry made the first defensive start of his career at free safety against Texas A&M on Oct. 8, and he has five tackles on the season.
Berry is better known for his kickoff return exploits, leading the nation with a 38.3-yard kick return average last season. This season, Berry ranks 14th in the country with 27.8 yards per kick return.
“We ask a lot of him in the kickoff return team,” Jones said. “Who knows maybe that will emerge at some point and time … eventually we’d like to get his hands on the football, as well.
“We still would like to get some speed he brings to the table offensively and play to the skill set of what he can do.”
The Vols don’t appear to have much need in the skill department on offense, with receivers Josh Malone and Jauan Jennings having demonstrated great ability.
Freshman receiver Tyler Byrd, the fastest player on the team, has managed to get only 14 touches: four carries and 10 catches.
Jones said Alvin Kamara will be out two weeks with his unspecified knee injury, and he now says the Vols expect “most” of their offensive linemen to return from injury.
On Monday, Jones declared Kamara out for this week and said he expected all of the offensive linemen back from their various injuries.