About a month ago, the Arizona Wildcats staff got some not-so-good news as one of their promising young players received an injury that will put him out for the season.
Incoming freshman linebacker Jabar Triplett Jr. tore his Achilles while working out and prepping for his first college season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-star recruit from Baton Rouge has since had a successful surgery and is on the mend. The good news is he and his family have kept a positive mindset on the situation and that is something that will help him on his road to recovery.
I caught up the talented inside linebacker to discuss his injury, surgery, plans for his freshman season, recruiting and more.
Brandon Combs: How is recovery from your surgery going?
Jabar Triplett Jr.: “Recovery is going good. I’m getting used to everything.”
Brandon: That’s great to hear! How did the surgery go? It looked like it went pretty well.
Triplett: “Yeah the surgery went pretty well. This fixed me up right and got me back right.”
Brandon: What timeline did they give you until you can start walking again?
Triplett: “I have to go in to get a cast. Then I have to wear the cast 6 to 8 weeks. After that I’ll be in a walking boot. It’s not too bad.”
Brandon: Describe to a me a little how the injury happened.
Triplett: “A couple of friends and I were out working out on the levy, getting some work in. We were just doing some bounds up the levy. One my last one, when I jumped and came down, it felt like somebody kicked me and I fell down to the ground instantly. Had a nice little pop like something had broke. I kept walking on it because I thought it was a little sprain or something.”
Brandon: How have the Arizona coaches reacted to this news?
Triplett: “All the coaches at Arizona have been checking in on me, hitting me up, calling me and everything. They are ready for me to get down there and get my rehab going. I kind just spend more time learning the playbook this year and then they’ll be ready for me next year.”
Brandon: Besides learning the playbook, will you also be picking the brains of the linebackers already on the team? What are you hoping to learn while watching the team?
Triplett: “Oh yes sir! I want to learn the speed of the game and watching the two linebackers ahead of me (Colin Schooler and Tony Fields). Watching how they play and learn from their good plays and mistakes. That way, when I come in next year, I can improve on my skills and integrate some of their skills with mine. They are some good linebackers.”
Brandon: We’ve talked a little about the Paul Rhoads hire a few months back. What are your thoughts on playing for him? What are you hoping to learn from him?
Triplett: “I’m very excited to play under Coach Paul Rhoads. I looking forward to him teaching me to become a great linebacker and learn the game even better. He’s got some good players coming in for Arizona this year. The defense, we’re going to be good this year.”
Brandon: You are coming in as an inside linebacker. Is there anything you like more about playing inside rather than outside backer?
Triplett: “I like playing inside because I can make plays in the middle of the field, you know? Tackles, hit the running back, and spy on the quarterback.”
Brandon: I know COVID-19 has slowed life down for everyone, but do you have an idea about when you are moving to Tucson? Does the staff want you to do rehab in Tucson?
Triplett: “I was trying to go in June. However, it might end up being the beginning of July. I’m going to start rehab a little bit down here (Baton Rouge) but I’m going to finish the rest of my rehab up there in Tucson.”
Brandon: Moving to recruiting for just a moment. Arizona has been active and aggressive in recruiting Louisiana. How does that make you feel as a player from The Boot coming to play in Arizona?
Triplett: “That makes me feel good because out here in Louisiana, we have a lot of talent out here. And that’s what we are going to need in Arizona, some Louisiana kids. Have to get it up and rolling.”
Brandon: Have you been recruiting any Louisiana players to Arizona? How has the response been?
Triplett: “Oh yeah. I’ve been talking to some of the players, telling them to come join us. They say they really like Arizona. They like the coaching staff, the ones they’ve been talking to and who’s recruiting them.”
Triplett is going to make the most of his time while recovering from his injury. Learning from Colin Schooler and Tony Fields will only help him and allow him to learn from some of the best linebackers in the Pac-12.
Couple that experience with the time he’ll have to learn the playbook, and you have a recipe for someone who should see no problem seeing the field once he is fully healed.
Some background on Triplett: The 6-foot-2, 218-pound linebacker had 86 tackles (nine for loss), three sacks, seven pass breakups, four forced fumbles as a senior at Southern University Lab School. He picked Arizona over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.