Florida State tried as hard as any program in the country in 2009 to land elite defensive ends. At the end of the day they landed Brandon Jenkins, a top light player in his own right, yet the missed on the most of the rest of their targets. Defensive end is a high priority for the Noles for 2010, and the coaches haven't wasted any time in offering some of the Southeast's best.
T.J. Stripling from Southwest Dekalb High in Decatur, GA has already received an early offer from the FSU, as the Seminoles are among a host of schools showing early interest in the 6'6" 215 pound end. According to T.J. a lot of things have been going on early as schools are offering and he's started taking visits.
"A lot of things have been going on with recruiting so far," said Stripling. "I've been to Clemson and Alabama for Junior Day and I'm looking at going down to FSU for a visit. 6 schools have offered in FSU, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Clemson. I've been told a lot of schools are evaluating me and a lot of schools want me to come to their Junior Day. Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech are looking at me hard right now."
Stripling says that the best visit he has taken thus far has been to Georgia. He said that even though the Bulldogs haven't offered yet, the visit put them in a good spot early on in his process.
"3 weeks ago I went to Georgia's Junior Day." Stripling said, "and that was a lot of fun. The coaches there were telling me how much they like me. Growing up I kind of always liked them because of their colors and the players they have there. Right now Georgia is one of the top schools."
Even though it looks like the home state school will be tough to beat, Stripling told NoleDigest that he likes what FSU has to offer. Now he is focused on learning more about the Seminole program.
"I do like FSU because they are a speed school," stated Stripling. "They like the ends that can come off the edge quickly, and I think I fit that scheme pretty well. I'm a 4.6 guy so I can do that for them. I haven't spoken to the coaches yet at FSU because I just got the offer, but I was excited when I got it. Coming from the stock of players in Florida, getting this offer so early means something to me."
T.J. is a guy who'll have to add weight before he gets to the next level, but that is something he knows he has to improve on. When asked what makes him stand out as a player he said his combination of height and speed makes him hard to stop on the high school level.
"I am a guy who has good size and speed, and I think I am a guy who chases well," said Stripling. "I'm able to run down guys from behind and I can get to the quarterback pretty easily. Right now I'm more of a pass rusher at this stage. I need to get stronger and bigger; when that happens I think I will be better at stopping the run."
The talented defensive end says he will take all of his visits before he makes his decision. In the end the school he fits in with the best and that has the best atmosphere will be the school he signs with.
"I'm pretty excited about this process and I plan on staying humble throughout," said Stripling. "I don't know yet when I will make my decision but I want to take all my visits so I can find the best fit. The school with the best atmosphere, and the place I get along with the players the best, will be who I sign with. I need to be able to click with the coaches and the players, and those are things I will look for on my visit."
Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with Stripling, as well as the rest of the recruits from the 2010 recruiting class.