June 11, 2008

Chandler's ankle A-OK

Tight end Tripp Chandler was drenched in sweat and still breathing deep to catch his breath when he sat down with UGASports this week to talk about Georgia's upcoming season.

One of the first items he discussed was the status of a bothersome right ankle, one that he tweaked in the third quarter of the Bulldogs' Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii.

The injury put the senior on the shelf for almost a month after returning from New Orleans. But with volunteer workouts now in full swing, Chandler said the ankle is almost 100 percent.

"I'm still looking to drop about eight more pounds," said Chandler, who currently weighs 258. "We got back from the Sugar Bowl and because of my injury I kind of got away from my cardio (cardiovascular workout) and let my weight get away from me."

Although Chandler said his injury didn't amount to much more than a sprain, it was the same ankle that he injured his senior year at Woodstock High while playing in the North-South All-Star game.

"Our trainers just thought that we go ahead and take care of it now so it wouldn't be a problem later," Chandler said. "I remember tweaking it a little midway in the third quarter of the Sugar Bowl. Fortunately, the game was where I could sit out and not have to go back in. We just took it slow, which let me rehab it and now I'm 100 percent."

No doubt Bulldogs coaches are happy about that.

Although depth isn't necessarily a problem at the tight end position with Bruce Figgins, Aron White and freshman Bryce Ros, Chandler's experience is definitely a facet that head coach Mark Richt is counting on this fall.

Chandler, who caught 20 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season, couldn't be happier with his role.

"It's always been a dream of mine to be put in this position, especially with this team because I grew up a huge Dawg fan,"
Chandler said. "I definitely feel it's up to me to try and lead by example.
"That's why I feel it's my job now to make sure when we come out here (for voluntary workouts) to make sure we have something set up each and every day so we're not just standing around wondering what to do."

Currently, the Bulldogs have plenty to keep them occupied.

Besides the daily weight sessions, individual workouts include route running while working on timing with the quarterbacks, along with a running program which is coordinated under the watchful eyes of Georgia's extremely capable training staff.

"We might run some stadiums, we might run some 100-yard sprints, some gassers across the field," Chandler said. "They might have us do a number of different things."

Chandler said their techniques have worked up until now.

"They understand each and every player in this program, how they work, how they run; they understand each and every person here in the starting lineup from (Matthew) Stafford all the way down to the kicker," he said. "We have 125 guys here and they know what expect from each and every one."

Speaking of expectations, Chandler said he's already sensed a different approach in the way how seriously his teammates are taking their summer conditioning.

In fact, Chandler says he's seen nothing like it.

"I don't think I've ever seen our team work as hard as they did in the weight room this first weekend. I think all of us understand that the bar has been set high and there's a big prize to win there. I think all of us have our eyes set on working really hard," Chandler said. "Anytime you hear about college football, people are talking about the Georgia Bulldogs and their chance to maybe win the national championship."

But the Bulldogs are taking nothing for granted.

"We know that we've got a long road ahead of us, it's a rocky road, there's some very good teams that we have to play," Chandler said. "There's not one game that I can think of off the top of my head that's not going to be a struggle for us to win, whether it's home, away or anything. We're going to have to be ready."

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