Thirteen days remain until Georgia kicks off its season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1. In the days counting down to the opener, DawgNation will profile, with our “Around the Hedges in 80 Days” series, a Bulldogs player we expect to make an impact. We will review each player’s career thus far and project his long-term potential as we progress through our alphabetical list, from center David Andrews to receiver Rantavious Wooten.
13. T.J. Stripling
Junior, Outside linebacker
6-foot-6, 235 pounds
Fall forecast: Finally healthy nearly two years after suffering a career-threatening injury as a freshman, Stripling seems likely to play a lot more this fall than he did a season ago. He’s finally out of a knee brace and confident that he can maneuver properly, so he should get a chance to show what he can do -- most likely in a reserve role -- at outside linebacker.
Career highlight: Perhaps the play for which Stripling is best known was also the low point of his career. He suffered a major injury, rupturing the patella tendon in his knee, while covering a kickoff as a freshman against Colorado in 2010. He was still not completely healthy last season, but it did Georgia fans’ hearts good to see him return to the field last season against Coastal Carolina and play in most of the Bulldogs’ remaining games.
Experience thus far: Stripling played in each of the first five games of 2010 before suffering the season-ending knee injury. He recorded two tackles in nine games last season.
Possible career impact: Stripling was one of the highest-rated prospects in Georgia’s 2010 signing class and seemed to be on track to become a valuable player before he went down against Colorado. That injury robbed him of half a season and essentially prevented him from making much of an impact in 2011. In hindsight, a redshirt might have made sense for Stripling last year, but he still has plenty of time to make something of his college career. He’ll play an active role this fall and can earn further playing time if he makes some good things happen when he rejoins the outside linebacker rotation while playing at full strength.