In His Own Words: Tripp Carroll
by Tripp Carroll, as told to Chris Horne
TSL Extra, Issue #23

6-4, 300-pound Tripp Carroll is one of the highest rated offensive line prospects in the country. He earned preseason All-America honors from Superprep, Tom Lemming, and Rivals.com. He maintains a 3.9 GPA and scored 1,200 on his first SAT attempt. He is on track to graduate early from high school.

We recently spoke to Tripp about his commitment to Virginia Tech, and here's what he had to say, in his own words.

Making a choice on which school I wanted to go to was the first big choice of my life. I wanted to go somewhere where I would feel at home. Basically, the school I chose would have to be my home away from home.

Whichever school I chose to attend, I knew that there would always be one thing to carry me through all the ups and downs…my Christian belief. Everything, absolutely everything for me revolves around my religion. It has been there for me the entire time, through all of the diversity in my life. It also brings me and my 13 year old sister closer together. The whole thing is phenomenal.

My belief has guided me throughout everything up to this point, and it would help me with this decision as well.

I knew about Virginia Tech because my girlfriend plays softball there. So, this spring, when I was deciding which schools I wanted to take a look at, I figured it was worth a shot to at least check it out. After all, Virginia Tech would have to be a good school, or else my girlfriend wouldn’t have gone there. Besides, what did I have to lose?

So my mom and I decided to take the trip up 77 and 81 to Blacksburg for the spring football game. This was my first visit to Virginia Tech, and I wanted it to be a surprise. I love surprising schools by making unexpected visits to the campus. I like to see the coaching staff’s reaction when I introduce myself. Earlier I had spoken with the Virginia Tech coaches about possibly coming to the spring game, but nothing was scheduled.

The drive up 77 and 81 was both long and beautiful. The scenery was amazing. I love the outdoors – land, water, everything. Call me an outdoorsman, because I love to hunt and I love to fish. More than the scenery, though, it was the people on the way to Blacksburg. Everywhere we stopped, people would just say hi. Everyone was very friendly, and they were even nicer the closer we were to Blacksburg.

We arrived on campus, and I was amazed. The people were very nice and extremely welcoming, which was very important to me. Some schools have great coaches, but not necessarily the nicest people. Virginia Tech had nice people…especially the coaches.

As my mom and I walked up towards Jamerson Hall’s entrance, I noticed Coach (Danny) Pearman walking out. He was the primary coach recruiting me. Eager to see his reaction, I introduced myself and my mother. Turns out, his reaction was good.

Coach Pearman stopped whatever he was doing at the time, and gave us a complete tour of the campus. He was so welcoming. He introduced us to all of the different coaches, each of whom took at least a minute or two to introduce themselves. The whole experience with Coach was wonderful.

And then I had a chance to meet with Coach Beamer. Now I know how much responsibility head coaches have, because my father is the head football coach for Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, FL, where I now live. With the spring game and everything else going on, I know Coach Beamer was busy. He took the time to bring me into his office and speak to me for about 15 minutes. It meant a whole lot for Coach Beamer to take the time to meet with me…a whole lot.

The spring game was a great time. It was there that I first met Jake Grove, who has become a very good friend. We talked for virtually the entire game. We have so much in common, and it was awesome meeting someone that you immediately hit it off with. Jake and I e-mail almost everyday now.

Another thing I liked is the fan support. People in Blacksburg love football, as I found out soon enough. Half the place was full for the spring game, and I just thought…Wow! How could you not be impressed? It’s all about the fans. I was watching the LSU-VT game on television, and LSU had about three penalties because the crowd was so loud. The fans are just awesome.

After the spring game was over, I got a chance to go into the locker room. Coach Beamer spoke to the team, and for me to be a part of that experience was very special. The whole experience was very special.

The ride home was just as beautiful as the ride up. It was then that I realized I wanted to spend the next four years at Virginia Tech. It was love at first sight.

I kept the recruiting process going for the entire summer. I visited North Carolina about three times. The Carolina coaches did an excellent job recruiting me, an excellent job. Coach Bunting is awesome. But the people weren’t the same as in Blacksburg, and that’s something that kept sticking in my mind.

Everywhere else I went, I found myself thinking that the people aren’t like they are at Virginia Tech. But it’s tough. It’s tough telling great coaches like Lou Holtz, "Mr. Holtz, I’m sorry but I don’t want to go to your school, even though you are a coaching legend." Plus it’s their job. Saying no to these guys was definitely the toughest thing for me.

And I wanted to take my official visits. I really did. I wanted to go to UNLV and Ohio State…I wanted to take them all. But, the more I thought, the more I realized that I didn’t want to lead anybody on. I know I would be biased already before taking the officials, because I would compare each school to Virginia Tech.

So it was then that I decided to commit. I knew I would eventually choose Virginia Tech, and, without meaning to sound conceited, I didn’t want to get other coaches' hopes up.

With my commitment over and done with, I now want to focus on getting stronger, bigger, and better. Hopefully I can help Andrew Jackson make it to the state championships. I moved to Jacksonville earlier this summer to play for my dad. I thought the transition might be tough, but it wasn’t. Florida football is not much different from North Carolina football. The skill position players are a little better, but the linemen are smaller.

I was a little nervous for the first game, but I soon realized that I am just as good as everyone else on the field. We beat Sandlewood, and I finished the game with 16 pancake blocks. It was awesome. Everyone quickly realized that I could play some football. I earned city-wide Offensive Player of the Week for my performance.

Now we are 2-0. My main concern right now is showing everyone else on this team what it takes to become a winner. I give 100% both on and off the field and in the weight room. I never stop. When I got here, most of the other guys would give about 25% in the weight room. Now, I would say they are up to about 45%. They are getting better by the week. Hopefully I can keep setting the tempo with my work ethic, because actions speak louder than words.

The next few games should be fun, because, on occasion, I might line up at fullback. I may catch a few passes in the flat, but I will be no William Perry I assure you. I am pretty fast at around 5.0 in the 40, so I could do all right, but I just love to block. Playing fullback will help me work on my pulling action, which is crucial from my usual offensive guard position. I need to work on my pulling.

Off the field, I will graduate early from high school. I finished senior English on my birthday (Sept 18), so now I can get started on taking college credit courses. My goal is to enroll at Virginia Tech in January 2003. The coaches say they are working on it for me. I want to get there as soon as possible, so it would be awesome to be there by January.

At Virginia Tech, I want to major in either Medicine or Business. The football trainer is going to head up the Medical Department (opens in 2005), so he could put me on the right track once I get in school.

I took my second visit to Virginia Tech in September, and it was like falling in love all over again. This is the right decision for me…it is my home away from home, and I can’t wait to get started.

 

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