October 26, 2006
Nashville -- At 6' 5" and 315 pounds, it's hard to miss Berrien County center Tanner Strickland. But even as a stand-out on and off the football field, the senior offensive lineman wasn't expecting a lot of attention from major college football programs.
The University of Georgia was first out of the gate with a scholarship offer to Strickland before his junior season, and the senior is now ready to get a head start on his college education.
It was clear very quickly to Berrien County Head Coach Ross New that Tanner Strickland could play big time college football.
"Well, when I first met him" says New. "If you look at him, physically he's as good as you are going to see. He runs a 4.85, he's 6'5", 315 pounds, dunks a basketball, and can squat 600 pounds. There's not very many high school guys that can do that."
The University of Georgia spotted Strickland at a lineman camp before his junior year of high school.
"They were the first school at made an offer to me, or really showed any interest, so I jumped on it," says Strickland. "I knew in my heart Georgia was where I needed to be. Some other schools were looking at me, but I kind of shook them off."
Strickland did not grow up strictly a Bulldog fan.
"It was a split household between Georgia and Auburn, but Georgia came out on top, I guess," says Strickland.
And which side of the house won that battle?
"My Mom, Georgia," Strickland says, with a laugh.
Coach New says the signing has made Strickland a bit of a marked man.
"It's the notoriety," says New. "With high expectations this year, and knowing that Georgia has already committed, there's a lot of responsibility that comes with it, but he's handling it well."
Strickland adds, "Sometimes when you do mess up people jump on you and get down your throat a little bit. It's something you have to deal with, but with all that bad comes a lot of good."
Strickland plans to graduate early and enroll at UGA in January.
"It's something where you feel like you're leaving a lot behind," says Strickland, "but when you look at the big picture it's just too much to pass up."
Berrien County plays rival Cook Friday at 7:30 PM.