Hale and Hearty

After missing the first two games of his junior season, defensive back Trippe Hale had quite the welcome back as he made his season debut against Auburn in his home state of Alabama. It had been up in the air if Hale would be healthy enough to make the trip after rehabbing from a hip injury, but he not only made the journey, but made a major contribution on WVU's special teams.

"I was glad to be back [in Alabama]," said Hale. "I was excited. It is something I had been thinking about for a long time. I was glad I was healthy enough to make the trip. I had ten people in the game, that's just family and some of them were tailgating because they couldn't get in. I have a lot of friends that go [to Auburn] and my brother goes to school there."

Hale admits that he and his brother have a bit of a friendly competition with their opposing schools which makes it hard to communicate at times.

"I really didn't talk to him too much [before the game]," Hale admitted with a laugh. "[After the game] I didn't want to hear what he had to say."

Although much of Hale's family resides in the Auburn area and his dad, Steve, was an assistant coach at Alabama, he choose to play quite a long way from home with his choice to play for the Mountaineers.

"I was recruited by Coach [Rick] Trickett, who was from the Mobile area and he invited me to camp up here because he liked what he saw in spring practice and wanted me to show the other coaches," said Hale. "I felt at home up here. The coaches were nice. I liked the facilities. The people are a lot the same as the people back home. I really appreciated that. It felt like I wasn't going that far away [from home] even though I really was."

Hale dove into the game head first as he got an early tackle and had a noticeable influence on the kickoff team.

"After getting a big tackle right off the bat, people were just saying ‘It's good for you to have you back, Trippe,' and I really appreciated that," said Hale. "I work hard and take special teams seriously so it was good to hear that. [On the kickoff team] I think we're just finally putting everything together and doing the responsibilities that we're supposed to be doing. "I think we were in a good place against Auburn," Hale continued. "We never did the same kick twice and we were always keeping them guessing. I feel like last year we were the ones guessing, but we learned from that and kept them guessing."

Hale was eager to get back on the field after missing the first two games of the season.

"When you're outside looking at it, when you come back you approach it a little differently," admitted Hale. "You don't take anything for granted. When you're not in, you have to take mental reps because you're not able to take the physical reps. The mental reps that I took when I was out actually helped a lot."

Although the loss against Auburn wasn't a pleasant event, Hale was able to have a memorable welcome back game from his plaguing injury. His impressive showing against his home team will hopefully carry over into his performance for the reason of what he can hope will be an injury-free season.

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