The state of Georgia is loaded with great defensive lineman in 2010, and Southwest Dekalb's T.J. Stripling is one of the best.
At 6-foot-6, 210-pounds, Stripling has the size, and he also shows the kind of athleticism that is making him one of the hottest names in the south. The talented junior made his second trip up to Athens this year, and it started off with great news.
"When I first walked in the door, I was escorted into Coach (Mark) Richt's office, Stripling told UGASports. "I talked to him for a while, and then he pulled a letter out of his pocket, and handed me a written offer. It was the first time I had ever got an offer from the man himself, it felt great."
"I was speechless," Stripling added.
It did not stop there as the talented prospect, who had 15 sacks in his first year playing defensive end. Stripling got to take in the Bulldogs practice, and he came away very impressed with what he saw.
'Even though the day started off pretty well, everything else just made it that much better. We went to the field and watched the team in pads," he said. "I loved the intensity and just their discipline in following the coaches, doing what they were supposed to be doing. They got up the field fast without clowning around, and I think they were getting better out there."
Seeing the defensive ends getting coached up, the Decatur native got to see how much of a perfectionist Coach Jon Fabris can be.
"I watched Coach Fabris most of the time, and he likes to get in your ears a lot. The players respond well to that and they get after it on the next play. They listen to him, so he must be doing something right," said Stripling.
There were over 100 prospects in town for the event, including most of the top players in Georgia. Stripling knows a few of them and hung out with the first Bulldog commitment for 2010, also a talented pass rusher.
"Jalen (Fields), I spent most of my time with him. He told he wanted to commit as soon as we got on the field," Stripling said. "I know Marquise (Ambles) was waiting on an offer, he really likes Georgia too."
Schools have been showing a lot of interest in the athletic prospect, and offers have been rolling in the past two months. The Bulldogs became offer number 10, and Stripling shared his thoughts on the in state program.
"I have been following Georgia my whole life, ever since Quincy Carter was there," said Stripling. "He played at Southwest Dekalb too, so I loved to watch him when I was a kid. Georgia is definitely at the top of the list, they have been for a long time."
While it looks like Georgia is sitting pretty with the local star, he is not expecting a decision to come anytime soon. In fact, Stripling is not even sure where he will be visiting next. Both decisions will be coming from the Southwest Dekalb football staff.
"Our coach has not told us where our next visit will be," Stripling said. "He is really big on tradition, so he does not want us to make a decision before our senior season."
Last year, the staff took the team to camps at Ohio State and Kentucky. Stripling is hoping to get an offer from one of these schools.
"Ohio State is a school I would like to get an offer from. I camped there last year. And the competition there was higher than most camps around here. I did what I had to do there, and I feel I showed I could compete with the best of them," said Stripling.
Stripling will need to add weight to be successful at the next level, but he has excelled so far on pure talent. With sub 4.6 speed, the potential is there for greatness. Right now, Stripling is playing his other love, basketball.
"I am playing AAU basketball right now, and my GA Stars team is 9-0," he said. "We have a big tournament in Columbus this weekend. Basketball was my first love, but now I have moved on to football. I know it is where my calling is, so I am sticking with it."
Clemson, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida State and Alabama are a couple other schools Stripling mentioned prominently. And there was one school he still had on his mind a couple days later.
"I loved the campus, I love the players, I love the coaches, I love everything about Georgia," Stripling said.
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