I have this theory that most of us (possibly secretly) love one college football player who went to a rival school. Usually, this player is so talented, so capable of doing things that make the other impressive athletes around him look pedestrian, that you can't help but love him, even though he's actively making life worse for you and the team you root for. This is the player that has you acting like a taciturn dad during a game; you just say "mmmm" and shake your head because there's not much else you can express.
For me, that player is Eric Berry, who hit so hard and moved so quickly and ruined so many plays that I couldn't be mad at him. I'm not talking about mere grudging respect. I mean that, watching Eric Berry play at Tennessee, I actively enjoyed his successes even though I was supposed to root for his, and every other Vol's, failure.
The best thing about the rival player you secretly love is they eventually move on to the NFL, where you don't have to feel any twinge of conflict rooting for them since they can't hurt you anymore. (I am sorry for you, South Carolina fans who also root for the Panthers. Vic Beasley will haunt you for so much longer than you originally planned.) You just bask in the greatness.
Entering last season, Eric Berry's NFL career was going reasonably well. He started all 16 games as a rookie, finishing with four interceptions and a spot in the Pro Bowl. After missing basically all of 2011 with an ACL tear, he started all 16 games again in 2012 and went back to the Pro Bowl. The following season, Berry was named first team All-Pro. And though he played in six games in 2014, last season's stuck as The Year Eric Berry Got Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
But 2015 is The Year Eric Berry Came Back. Go wreck some offenses, Mr. Berry.