August 16, 2010

Troupe say his focus is finally there

There's rarely a day that goes by when Israel Troupe doesn't think about Chance Veazey and offers a quiet word of thanks.

By now, Veazey's story is a familiar one.

Former high school teammates, the two starred on the Blue Devil baseball team before moving onto UGA, Troupe signing with the Bulldogs to play football while Veazey signed to play baseball with David Perno's squad.

Veazey was ticketed to star at second base after a strong fall in 2009, but after a scooter accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, his life was changed forever.

Apparently, so has Troupe's.

"He shows me a lot of motivation. He comes in and you see him and he's never complained about anything that's happened to him. He's going day by day like nothing ever happened," Troupe said. "He's shown me that you can't take anything for granted and I feel like that was something I was doing early in my career. But you can't take anything for granted in life. It can be taken away from you.

"Just seeing what happened to him kind of turned the light on for me and let me know that every day is not guaranteed. There's going to come a day when you're not going to be able to run and jump, so you might as well seize the moment while you can."

That's just what Troupe is trying to do.

Although he's entering his fourth season in the program after redshirting in 2007, nagging injuries and an admitted lack of focus have haunted Troupe, who enters this season with eight career catches for 129 yards and one score.

"I have a lot bigger grasp on things. I did last year but I wasn't that focused. This year I came in with a different focus and tried to learn everything that I could," Troupe said. "There were just too many things going on at one time. I just wasn't focused on football and the aspects that go into it, studying film and studying the playbook like I should. I just had to learn to put football first. Everything now is about football. We're all here for one goal and that's to win a national championship."

Part of Troupe's past issues dealt with what sport he actually wanted to play.

A talented baseball player who was drafted out of high school, Troupe has dabbled in the sport while at UGA although he's yet to make the impact there many predicted he would.

Although he hasn't totally ruled out a future in the sport, football now has Troupe's full attention.

"I've worked harder and have gotten myself in better shape. That's my main goal to get everything right, to show that I am the guy who can go in," Troupe said. "This season I've come in at the best shape I've been since I got here. Rex (Team nutritionist Rex Bradberry) pushed me a lot this summer. Because I was going to be one of the heavier receivers, I had to be one of the most in shape and he helped me out a lot. He kept me on a strict diet and it's paid off. I'm not out there sucking wind all the time when I'm running routes."

The 215-pound Troupe hopes to get down to 205 by the start of the season, something he doesn't expect to be an issue as he aims to augment Georgia's receiver's corps by having what he hopes is the best year of his Bulldog career.

Receivers coach Tony Ball has already made clear what he expects.

"We sat down, talked about things, talked about how the season went last year and he expressed to me that I've got to go be on top of my game ," Troupe said. "He kept it real and I really thought and took in what he said. It really meant a lot.

"The rest is now up to me."

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