The Southeastern Conference is a “line of scrimmage league.” Few debate that and Tennessee coach Butch Jones not only endorses the notion.
Because of that, the head man clearly puts a tremendous amount of faith in his assistant coaches he brought with him to Knoxville to teach the Volunteers how to win in the trenches, including defensive line coach Steve Stripling.
In all, the former Colorado offensive lineman Stripling has more than 30 years of experience in coaching and playing.
Stripling, who got his start as a graduate assistant at Colorado in 1977, doesn’t point at the players he’s helped perform at a high level and play professionally as what sticks out to him about his career. Rather it’s the phone calls from his former students that ring near and dear to him.
“I think I've had a lot of guys go on to play and I think probably the most rewarding is when you get a call like Derek Wolfe who says, ‘Coach, I don’t know how to ever thank you.’ Well, you just did,” Stripling told InsideTennessee. “So, I think that's what’s rewarding that that they’ve gone on and they appreciate the relationship and the work that you did together.”
The second-year Tennessee associate head coach tripped this summer to Napa Valley Training Complex in Napa, California, to spend time around the Oakland Raiders coaching staff and former understudy LaMarr Woodley, who Stripling coached at Michigan 2005-07. Woodley earned All-America honors and won the Lombardi Award.
Woodley and Wolfe aren’t the only National Football League linemen to be mentored by Stripling. He also coached former Conference USA defensive player of the year DeWayne White while the two were at Louisville. White went on to play seven seasons in the NFL between the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, registering 203 tackles and 27 sacks.
“I've been fortunate enough to where I have a good relationship with all those guys,” Stripling said. “I don't try to bug those guys. I saw Woodley. He’s one of my favorites. I went and spent some time a couple days with him this summer at training camp. He’s one that will call and stay in touch and those kind of things.”
See more from Stripling discussing the progress of freshman Derek Barnett, "developing the next wave" of linemen and more by clicking play on the InsideTennessee video below:
Stripling teaching 'next wave'