March 24, 2010

Tripp gets final shot at success

In many ways, senior Kiante Tripp's Georgia career has been an enigma.

Everybody, it seems, has an opinion as to why. Tripp has heard them all.

When he first arrived in Athens, the tall, rangy lineman had the looks of a sure-fire star, someone Bulldog coaches would be able to plug into the starting lineup, sit back and watch enjoy a stellar career.

But as most Georgia fans can tell you, it hasn't worked out that way as Tripp is still trying to live up to his potential.

Several injuries haven't helped Tripp, who was the Bulldogs' starting right tackle on offense to open the 2008 campaign.

He didn't stay there for long.

Four games into 2009, Tripp was shifted to tight end before injuries dictated a return to the offensive line where he stayed until he moved back to his original position at defensive end last spring.

But he still rarely played.

Tripp only saw action in four games for the Bulldogs, leaving many to wonder if he was just wasting his time.

"I just take it as a lesson learned," Tripp shrugged. "I don't think of it (all the position moves) as a negative or what not because I think it's helped me to understand both sides of the ball."

But will the senior finally make some gains? He certainly hopes so.

Tripp is one of a number of players still being evaluated at left and right end by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who still trying to figure out where the 290-pounder could best fit in.

These days, the former Westlake High standout is trying to find his way as a member of Georgia's defensive interior.

Although it's early, Tripp said he's currently rotating in with the second group at both end positions. He's also one of several Bulldogs getting a look at nose.

"It's definitely a lot different," Tripp said. "Last year we would go straight base, base, base. Now, we're bringing people from everywhere. You don't know which way we'll be coming from."

So far, Tripp feels he and his teammates are catching on to Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

Yes, plenty of mistakes are being made. But Tripp said he and his defensive mates have already seen what can happen when they execute plays to Grantham's satisfaction.

"We can make it tough on the quarterback, that's for sure," Tripp said. "It's fun knowing we're going to be getting after it like that."

Just don't ask Tripp to explain Grantham's blitz package quite yet.

"Whatever he's doing, it's working," Tripp said. "I actually think we've done a good job as far as picking up the blitz and learning the plays, at least I think we're getting much better at it. The offense has a hard time when it's working."

Tripp said he's thankful for the chance Grantham's giving him to prove himself one more time.

"You couldn't drag me back to the other side of the ball," Tripp said. "I'm ready to go. I'm going to try and finish my senior year up strong, and if things go well, hopefully move onto the next level."

Tripp said don't laugh.

"That's the good thing about having a coach from the NFL," said Tripp. "He's bringing a system that they use there a lot, so hopefully if I get my chance; it's something that will help me when I get to the next level."

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