In the weeks following the Rose Bowl, Tripplett toyed with entering the NFL draft. Instead he dusted off his video camera. "I want to enjoy my senior year here," he says. "I want to feel like I completed this process." The NFL agrees with his decision. "He would've been in the mix if he'd come out," says the Sea-hawks' McCloughan, "but it almost always helps a kid to play an extra year of college ball."
It should definitely help Tripplett. The teddy bear who didn't lift weights seriously until he arrived at Washington increased his squat over the summer to a school-record 750 pounds. "The most I ever did was 735," says Emtman. "Thing is, Larry's not a power-lifter. He's a great athlete who happens to powerlift. There isn't a lineman at this level who can block him, if he puts his mind to it."
Emtman spent time with Tripplett over the summer. They worked on a semiobscure aspect of defensive line play: how to keep an offensive lineman's hands off you. That explains why Tripplett found himself sitting bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night during two-a-days, chopping at the hands of imaginary linemen. This happened several times. "Can you believe it?" he said at the time. "I'm dreaming about football practice."
Is Coach Hart in your dreams? "His voice," says Tripplett, looking into the distance. "Always his voice."