Come Saturday night in the Georgia Dome, sophomore Sam linebacker T.J. Stripling will be in a position not a lot of people figured he'd be in - playing.
After tearing his patella tendon in last year's game at Colorado, doctors initially figured the former Southwest DeKalb standout would take a year or better in order to get back on the field.
But thanks to a rigorous rehab, Stripling is expected to be part of the rotation at Sam linebacker behind starter Jarvis Jones when the Bulldogs open their season against fifth-ranked Boise State.
"Everything is going great," Stripling said. "I'm ahead of schedule; it's all I can ask for."
Stripling said he's about "95 percent" as far as his health, but figures when the adrenalin starts flowing he will be at or near 100 percent come kickoff.
Once he gets that first hit, everything should be back to normal.
"It's just like anything else, once I get that first play, all the jitters will go away," he said. "It will all be downhill from there."
Long glad to be back at left tackle
Redshirt sophomore Austin Long says he had no problem when position coach Will Friend asked him to play left tackle after originally being scheduled to play right.
"I like it," Long said Wednesday. "That's where I always played in high school; I just feel more comfortable on the left."
With Long's switch to left, freshman Watts Dantzler swapped places and is now listed as the top backup at right tackle behind starter Justin Anderson.
Long, who missed just over two weeks while recovering from mononucleosis, says he's 100 percent.
"I just need to gain some of the weight back that I lost from the mono," Long said. "But I'm already at 305. I want to get to 315, but other than that I feel great."
Sanks reaches out to Crowell
Count former Bulldog and fellow Carver alum Jasper Sanks among those who have reached out to freshman Isaiah Crowell to offer some friendly advice about what to expect his first year as a college player.
"I think a lot of people want to see Isaiah succeed, people that know him, people that don't know him, but if you're Jasper Sanks, you were highly recruited and you had certain experiences that you might could teach a young guy. Jasper reaching out to Isaiah is a really good thing," head coach Mark Richt said. "He also had a chance to talk to Herschel when he was in town and I think that was beneficial, too. But Isaiah is Isaiah Crowell. He's his own man; he's going to experience this thing himself. I don't think he's trying to emulate anybody at all. He knows he is who he is and in time I think he will be really outstanding."
Like all freshmen, there are certain lessons Crowell has had to learn.
Time management is one.
"That's the No. 1 thing all freshmen go through is learning to be everywhere everybody expects you to be, on time and ready to give your very best effort," Richt said. "There are things that we expect, but these guys are human. When they're in academics, the academics want the best out of them, every ounce of them. Strength coaches, they want the same thing, position coach, the head coach, whatever it may be
media, the whole thing, everybody wants a piece of these guys and they want to do it just right. It just takes a little time getting used to it and I think he's progressing well in that area."
This and that
Richt said that running back Richard Samuel looked fine in offensive drills Wednesday, although offensive coordinator Mike Bobo decided not to push his players as much as he ordinarily might. "We'll have more tempo tomorrow, so I'll have a better feel for him," Richt said. "As far as knowing what to do and things of that nature, he's more than fine in that area."
Richt was once again asked the obligatory question regarding whether or not any of his players might be suspended for Saturday's game. "I have nothing to report at this moment," said Richt, who added that junior safety Bacarri Rambo has been getting all his reps in the secondary.
Richt confirmed that Branden Smith will return punts against the Broncos.
As for freshman quarterback Christian LeMay, Richt would not commit to a redshirt, but added "I think just about any quarterback would benefit from a redshirt."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]