"I'm Ready to Get My Rear-End Handed to Me."
by Will Stewart, 11/15/02

Offensive line stud Tripp Carroll is on track to achieve his goal of enrolling at Virginia Tech in January. The fast-talking Carroll, a veritable human quote machine, has some interesting things to say about what he expects when he gets to Tech. We tracked down Carroll at his home last night and asked him about that, plus how his last high school season went.

"If everything goes well here at my school," Carroll said, "I should be done in December, and then I can join the team in January. December 18th is my last day [of high school]. I'll arrive at Tech January 10th, move into the dorm, have orientation on January 12th, and classes start on January 13th."

Carroll will be on scholarship the minute he arrives at Virginia Tech, and his scholarship still counts against the 2003 recruiting class. There was some speculation that he might be able to practice with the team during Tech's bowl game practices, but Carroll is going to play in a high school all-star game instead.

"I'll be in San Antonio at the U.S. Army All-American game. January 5th is the game, and I'll be there between December 30th and January 5th. I was invited to play in the Florida-California All-Star game as well, but that's not going to work out, time-wise."

To say that he's looking forward to his time at Tech is an understatement. "I'm ready to get my rear-end handed to me," he says frankly. "I'm looking forward to going somewhere where I'm not the best, where I can get the teaching that I've not had in high school. In high school, when you're older and one of the best players, they kind of overlook you and work with the younger kids, and expect you to teach them.

"I'm ready for it. The only way to get better is to work hard."

Carroll's love for Virginia Tech, its coaching staff, and its people is well-documented, and there's one person in particular that he likes at VT. Totally unprompted, Carroll says, "Somewhere in [this interview], you've got to bring up my idol, my future teammate, Jake Grove [whom Carroll first met at the 2002 Spring Game]. He's the man. I'm maybe going to live with him next year. Not first semester, because I have to live on campus for a semester, but he has offered to have me come live with him next year. We've become really good friends in a short period of time. He's a really nice guy."

With his early arrival at Virginia Tech, and the chance to go through spring practice with the Hokies, we asked Carroll if the Tech coaching staff had discussed his opportunity for playing time as a true freshman in 2003. "They don't promise anything, and it's all about how hard you work," he answers. "But the one thing they've said is that by coming in early, it probably triples my chances of playing early."

Carroll's not concerned about picking up the offense and Tech blocking schemes. His focus will be on acclimating himself to the bigger, stronger, faster players he'll be playing with and against.

"I've always been around football -- my dad's a high school football coach -- and to me, it's always been about getting stronger and learning the speed of the game. I can pick up the offense like this [snaps fingers], I know I will. That's who I am. I was reading offenses before I was reading a book. I feel that once I get in the weight room and I have eight months [to lift] before August, I'll be more comfortable, and as soon as I'm comfortable, I'll be able to contend.

"High school's completely different [than college]. In high school, they [the defenders] step right, or they step left, and you body-slam them. In college, as soon as you step right, they step right faster than you're stepping right, they know where the ball is, you don't � as soon as I develop some camaraderie with the other offensive linemen, I'll be ready. I think spring practice will help a lot. Like most things, it's about how you adapt to your environment, and the sooner I get in there, the sooner I can adapt, and it will make it easier and quicker."

A bright student, Carroll is also excited about the opportunity to enter school in January because he'll be able to acclimate himself to the academic situation in the spring, instead of being thrown into it in the fall.

"For me personally, my future goals are to go into medical school, and by going in the spring, I'll be able to take a full load of classes and get the schoolwork going. It will give me a chance to work my way into football gradually, instead of being thrown into a high-pressure fall practice situation right away."

The key to being successful at Tech? "It's all about maturity," he answers. "I've always been expected to be more mature, because of my size. My girlfriend was a senior last year, and all my friends were seniors, and it's like they all went away to college and left me behind. I'm the oldest child, I've gone through a family separation, and there's a lot of things I've had to mature through."

Carroll moved from North Carolina to Florida to play his senior season for his father, head coach Gil Carroll, at Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville. The chance to compete against Florida high school football players was beneficial in more ways than one.

"Wow. When I came to Florida, I compared my old teammates to the Florida players, and the biggest thing was how fast the players in Florida are. We had 15 guys on our team run 4.5 forties or better, legit track speed. As the season went on, we played other teams, and the guys on the other teams were even bigger and faster. If California and Texas [high school] football is supposed to be the best football, I can only imagine how good they are. It's so fast here. The speed of the game is incredibly fast."

You might be surprised to learn that Tripp Carroll, who is destined for the offensive line at Tech (most likely the tackle position), spent very little time on the OL as a senior.

"I played fullback this year. I played one game on offensive line. It helped me with my open-field blocking, because it was read-on-the run football. I may not be the fastest, but I feel really comfortable out there in space, making a block, and playing fullback helped me. I lead blocked for two rushers over a thousand yards, so it was a great experience."

That's one massive fullback.

"I'm at about 285 now," says Carroll, who stands about 6-4. "I've been over 300 hundred before, but this heat down here has made me drop some weight."

On the challenge of playing the fullback position, Carroll, who has been clocked at 5.0 in the forty, says, "I feel like I'm faster when I play football. I feel like I could run a 4.7 in a game. I broke a dive right up the middle in one game and went 50 yards with it, and I felt like I was flying. When I need to be fast, I'm fast."

Carroll has been watching the Hokies all season, of course, and has caught some flack from his buddies about the Hokies' two recent losses. "People here are giving me grief. 'Oh, what happened to Virginia Tech? What happened to Virginia Tech?' But these guys are sophomores. They weren't expected to be this good. To be 8-2 and have some of the wins they have, that's a great season."

Carroll, who is registering for Virginia Tech classes today (Friday, Nov. 15th), is making the long drive up from Jacksonville to see the Hokies in person against West Virginia on Wednesday the 20th.

"I've already been promised a number," he says about the 2003 season. "I'm going to take over Anthony Davis' number [57], so I'm excited about that."

Along with a lot of other stuff. Just talking to Tripp Carroll, you can tell that he can't wait.

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