This was supposed to be the year that Kiante Tripp was finally supposed to make the impact that many have predicted now for over a year.
But thanks to what's been described as a shoulder sprain, that progress is being slowed once again.
Tripp, who was moved to defensive end prior to spring, has been held out of practice by team trainers for the better part of two weeks. With the season-opener at Oklahoma State now less than two weeks away, the sideline is the last place the junior wants to be.
"I've been doing a lot of conditioning, a lot of running just to keep myself in shape," Tripp said. "Other than that, I'm not trying to do too much because they (trainers) don't want me to have a setback."
But after detecting the inflection in Tripp's voice, it's apparent that disappointment is starting to set in.
With Justin Houston suspended for the first two games, the opportunity was right there in front of Tripp to claim some significant playing time against the Cowboys.
Although Tripp's absence is seen as mostly precautionary, depending on how quickly he's able to shake his shoulder injury, that door may be closing.
With Demarcus Dobbs and Roderick Battle as the likely two starters, Tripp's absence has opened the door for redshirt freshman Cornelius Washington, true freshman Montez Robinson and possibly senior Marcus Washington, who was moved to defensive end from linebacker two weeks ago.
Tripp admits being out is causing him to lose some ground.
"Everything is still a process," he said. "You can always get better and that's what I try to do. I think I had made a lot of improvement since the spring, but obviously I'm not where I need to be."
It is a slimmer version of Tripp than the one who concluded spring practice weighing a robust 295 pounds.
Tripp said he's since lost approximately 20 pounds and hovers between 270 and 275 on a given day.
"I feel great. I just wanted to get a lot quicker off the edge and I feel like I am," Tripp said. "My times have all increased and everything is great. I feel like I did my freshman year. Now, I just need to be able to get back on the field."
Tripp hopes that he will be able to return sometime this week.
"I hope so," he said. "I hate missing out. This has been the hardest camp we've had since I've been here. It's not like everybody's getting beat up nor have people dragging. It's just that everybody has done what they are supposed to do to get better. I miss being out there."
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