Tripplett happy to be back

SEATTLE - Five minutes into the drive from Sea-Tac Airport to download, and Larry Tripplett was already back in the swing of things. The 29-year old former defensive line star at the University of Washington was telling stories to his driver - Brian Fuller - a walk-on fullback that played with Tripplett back in 1999. Tripplett was clearly in his element.

"We were just telling stories, old Husky stories," Tripplett told this week, the day after he signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent after spending the previous two seasons in Buffalo. "We were talking about everything. It was unbelievable.

"I got goosebumps as soon as I took that N train (at Sea-Tac). I was excited."

Visits back to the Emerald City since his time at Montlake have been few and far between. Tripplett spent the first four years of his career in Indianapolis before his most recent stint with the Bills. But Tripplett was cut by Buffalo only two years into a five-year contract, and the move piqued the Seahawks' interest.

"Buffalo was moving in a different direction where they were probably looking for bigger defensive linemen," Tripplett said. "They were used to having that - guys like Sam Adams, Ted Washington and Pat Williams. I don't want to be 350 pounds. They tried to change the mentality, but it didn't happen."

Tripplett. at 6-foot-2 and hovering around 295 pounds, has always been a quicker three-technique player instead of a two-gap nose tackle-type run stuffer. It was his quickness for his size that was his calling-card at Washington, where he earned multiple All-America honors and a Rose Bowl ring in 2001.

And with the Seahawks, with tackles like Craig Terrill and Brandon Mebane, like their interior linemen to be active.

"It was a crazy thing," he said of the chain of events that led to his signing. "Seattle had called me and said they were possibly interested in me. I kind of wanted to wait and see what might happen after the draft. On Sunday they gave me a call and told me they wanted me to come out that night. So I flew out Monday morning."

After he cleared his physical, a deal was struck the next day and announced by the club on Wednesday. And just like that, Larry Tripplett was back where it all began. But it wasn't done without reservations. He had a chance to go back to Indianapolis, where he still has a home. "I left a message for Coach (Tony) Dungy and told him that there was only one team in the league I would have considered going to other than Indianapolis, and this (Seattle) was it. Coach Dungy is the best person that I've ever met."

At the 'Hawks' first mini-camp - scheduled to start today - he'll be reuniting with former Huskies Omare Lowe and Keith Gilbertson. C.J. Wallace is also still on the roster.

"I just talked to Rock Nelson," Tripplett said. "And I just left (Washington Defensive Line) Coach (Randy) Hart a message. I told him, 'Guess who is back in the Northwest? The guy you used to scream at, yell at. It's me, Larry Tripplett.' It's like a reunion. And Jim Mora is a Husky too.

"It's a good environment. The attitude on this team is a winning attitude, and that's why I'm excited."

Tripplett admitted - with his phone ringing non-stop since the news - he never once thought about changing his Seattle number. "It was the number that people knew me by," he said. "It was easier to keep it. Not knowing that I would get the opportunity to come back and play here, it's funny how I still have it." Top Stories