July 21, 2009

Stripling ready to decide

At approximately 7 a.m. Wednesday, Southwest DeKalb's T.J. Stripling will hop in the car with head coach Buck Godfrey and drive over to Athens.

They're not getting an early start so they can be first in line for lunch at The Varsity.

No, Stripling is going to Georgia for a meeting with Bulldog coaches Rodney Garner and Mark Richt.

Exactly what the gist of those conversations will be, Stripling isn't saying but told UGASports Tuesday he's ready to announce where he's going to play his college ball.

"The plan right now is to get up early and go on down there," Stripling said. "I guess we'll meet with Coach Garner first then go see Coach Richt and just announce it then."

What will that announcement be? Stripling isn't quite ready to say.

The Florida Gators have been one of a number of schools hard after the 6-foot-6, 215-pounder, who Tuesday was tabbed the country's No. 28-ranked player in Rivals.com's top 100.

In fact, the four-star performer was the highest-ranked of the newcomers in the top 100 listing after dominating the Athens Nike Camp and the Tennessee camp. Analysts from Rivals say Stripling reminds them of New York Giants defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka with his explosive pass-rushing ability and raw potential.

Whatever Stripling decides, he says he's ready for his recruiting phase to come to an end.

"Definitely. It's been stressful," he said. "The past two years have been kind of crazy. But it's finally coming to an end."

Not that he's had any real complaints.

The opportunity to travel to different school for camps and the chance to meet fellow recruits has been an aspect of the process he will never forget.

Stripling, who is projected as a weakside defensive end on the college level, has been playing football since the eighth grade.

"Basketball was always my game," Stripling said. "When I first started playing, I played quarterback for two years. After that I switched to defense and never looked back."

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