May 17, 2009

Favorite for Stripling?

DECATUR- SW Dekalb's T.J. Stripling says he's nowhere near close to narrowing his choice of potential schools.

Or is he?

Friday, the talented defensive end continued to drop hints that Florida may now be in the lead, although he insists he's not in a rush to make any kind of final decision.

"I don't know. I don't want to say right now," Stripling said when asked about Florida as he walked off the field in the pouring rain following his team's scrimmage last week. "But it could be."

Still, Stripling will continue to look around.

"I'm still pretty much wide open, unless all of a sudden I'm blown away by someone," he said. "I'm officially still wide open."

That's what Georgia coaches are counting on.

Recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner and fellow assistant Bryan McClendon were both on hand to watch Stripling and SW Dekalb teammate Kendrun Malcome go through their paces Friday, two of a number of coaches at the practice, a group that included Tennessee's Ed Orgeron.

Stripling said he's still in the process of finalizing his summer visits and won't make any kind of commitment until much later.

He does have trips planned to Ohio State and Miami.

"I just want to see what's out there," Stripling said. "Other than those two I'm still not sure where I'm going to go."

The athletic 6-foot-6, 215-pounder is one of 18 total defensive ends offered scholarships thus far by Georgia, which has one commitment from Dalton's Jalen Fields.

Fields, however, is projected to play on the strongside for Georgia. Stripling plays on the weakside.

During Friday's first spring practice in pads, Stripling split time between defensive end and tight end for the Panthers.

Although he didn't make the number of plays on defense that he hoped, Stripling attributed that to the fact that he was focused more on the offensive side.

"I think I was able to show some good things," he said. "But (Friday) I came out mainly to get better on offense, being that it looks like that's where I'm going to have to play some."

Stripling, who collected 15 sacks for SW Dekalb last fall, doesn't think playing both ways will be that much of a detriment.

"It's a little hard," he said. "We don't have much depth there so going both ways is something I'm going to have to fight through this year."

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