Israel Troupe chuckled a little when Georgia’s home game this Saturday against Auburn was mentioned to him recently.
“It was a good game the last time they came here,” the Bulldogs’ redshirt senior said. “Hopefully looking for the same thing this year. We’ll see how it goes.”
A reserve wide receiver throughout his Bulldogs career, Troupe had a night unlike any other against Auburn in 2009 in Sanford Stadium.
Filling in when star receiver A.J. Green left the game with a shoulder injury and with Georgia trailing 14-0, Troupe beat Auburn’s Neiko Thorpe down the sideline for a 50-yard second-quarter touchdown catch on his first play of the game to help Georgia to a 31-24 victory.
“A lot of people thought it was A.J.,” Troupe said, “because I wear 28 and he wore No. 8.”
Instead of the start of big things to come for Troupe, it’s his one shining moment at Georgia.
“Oh, man, I’m like everybody else. I thought there would be a lot of those nights too, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Troupe said.
Troupe has 12 total catches for 177 yards and that one touchdown against Auburn.
“I look back at that and that was one of my best nights,” he said. “I’ll never forget that night. We were down and we needed something big to happen and I was the guy to spark it up. That memory will always be the first thing that I think of. It felt good and we ended up winning the game.”
There’s a photo capturing the touchdown that his mother put in his room at home in Tifton, where he was a standout baseball and football player at Tift County.
The 6-foot-1, 222-pound Troupe was rated the No. 1 receiver in the state of Georgia in the 2007 recruiting class by both Scout.com and Rivals.com, but hasn’t lived up to that billing.
“I don’t really know,” he said about what has kept him from having more games like he did against Auburn in 2009.
He says injuries “here and there, little nick-nacks kind of take a toll on your body and after awhile it manifests into something bigger.”
This season he’s been slowed, by among other things, a quadriceps contusion sustained against Ole Miss on Sept. 24.
“I think the lack of playing time and opportunities with balls coming to him has been a combination of injuries and the competition level,” coach Mark Richt said. “Guys have really come in and competed well. Israel’s injuries here and there, whether it’s missing practice time or not being 100 percent for games, certainly hurt him too. I hope he’ll just continue to practice hard and make something big happen.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Troupe has fallen behind other receivers due to his lack of consistency combined with his injuries.
Freshman Malcolm Mitchell and redshirt freshmen Michael Bennett and Chris Conley have emerged into three of the top five Bulldogs receivers. Even walk-on Rhett McGowan now has five catches this season
Troupe, who studied real estate and property management, got his undergraduate degree in August.
“I’m looking down the road from football,” Troupe said. “At the end of the day with your degree, you have to do something past (that). You can’t play sports forever.”
Troupe has only one catch this season against Coastal Carolina for 20 yards. Then again he didn’t have a reception in 2009 before that game against Auburn.
“He’s had his moments,” Richt said, “and hopefully he’ll have another one or two before it’s over.”