August 25, 2010

Tripp hopes for one final shot at success

After four years of flip-flopping, changing positions and not knowing where he was going to line up from one season to the next, senior Kiante Tripp has finally found a home.

"I think that he has," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Kiante is a guy who has done every single thing we've ever asked him to do and he's done it with a smile. He's actually doing quite well."

Tripp, who not once has complained despite a multitude of position changes, said Richt's assessment is exactly right.

Yes, Tripp feels he is finally back where he belongs.

"That's exactly how I feel. Starting out coming here as a defensive guy that's where I wanted to be and certain things happened where I had to help out the team on the other side of the ball," Tripp said. "I've played about two different positions there, but now I've come back home and I feel good about it, especially being back on a new defense with Coach (Todd) Grantham as the coordinator."

It's certainly been a tumultuous career for the Atlanta native, who signed with Georgia as a defensive lineman before being moved to offensive line as a redshirt freshman.

Oh, but Tripp's fun was just beginning.

After opening the 2008 season as the Bulldogs' starter at left tackle, Tripp was shifted to tight end - a position he had never played before - until coaches decided in the spring of 2009 to move him back to defensive end in the Bulldogs former 4-3 scheme.

Currently, Tripp is in the rotation with the second unit at right defensive end behind starter Demarcus Dobbs.

"The transition, learning the plays, has actually been pretty good as far as learning the plays, basically because I've had to learn different plays for other positions before," Tripp said. "So, I know how to study once I get a new system in and as far as technique, I really increased that a lot from early spring until now."

His experience on offense is something he hopes plays to his advantage as well.

"That really helped me out as far as playing offense," he said. "I can look at the offense from a defensive standpoint, look at stances and tell what's actually going on."

Tripp admits his career has endured its share of potholes.

When he first arrived in Athens, Tripp did so as the nation's ninth-ranked offensive tackle according to Rivals.com.

Naturally, many fans expected Tripp to live up to that billing. But when he didn't and injuries began taking their toll in 2008, questions arose regarding the former Westlake star's desire and whether he would ever become a success.

Tripp's heard the talk and while he's disappointed his career to this point hasn't progressed the way even he would have liked, his only focus is what he can do this year, his final season in a Bulldog uniform.

He's hoping Grantham's 3-4 scheme and intent to regularly rotate players in and out of the defensive line will finally give him that opportunity.

"The main idea is to keep guys fresh and keep the rotation, so basically you want as many guys who know the plays so you can keep the rotation going," Tripp said. "That's the idea now, to get a good rotation and keep guys coming in and out so we can get after and rush the quarterback, make thing happen."

Last year Tripp appeared in just four games, but played extensively in April's G-Day contest, making two tackles.

While he certainly is counting on his senior season being his best year yet, even if he only plays a small role, just being part of the Bulldog family - particularly the defensive line - will be something he never forgets.

"We (the defensive linemen) joke amongst ourselves, but there's not anybody who messes with us because of that bond," he said. "We are so tight. That's how you build confidence. Each one of us feels we can depend on that guy next to him. It's all about communication. That's going to be a key with this new defense and right now that's something I think we're able to do very well."

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