Saturday, June 26, 2010
ALL-AMERICA ON PAUSE
Trinton Sturdivant is like a shooting star that is lost in the haze of a cloudy night. The big offensive tackle has twice had his ultra-promising career derailed by severe knee injuries and both he and his team have suffered as a result.
Even before he proved it on the field by earning Freshman All-America honors in 2007, Sturdivant had been touted as a can’t miss prospect. After backing up the talk (done by others, not by Sturdivant himself) as a key contributor on the field for a Georgia team that won the Sugar Bowl and finished ranked #2 in the country, Sturdivant readied for the 2008 campaign as the rock solid returning starter at left tackle. That was one spot on the team no one expected to have to worry about. Then tragedy struck. During a pre-season scrimmage, the big offensive tackle went down in a heap and those watching knew immediately (even if they could not say so immediately) that they would be without #77 for the 2008 season. The DAWGS shuffled and re-shuffled the O-line throughout the season and still managed to make and win a New Year’s Day bowl game, but nothing looked too solid along the offensive front all season.
Flash forward one year. Sturdivant had put in his work…all of the grueling hours of physical rehab, all of the lonely times when there was no one else to help him carry the weight of recovery…Sturdivant had gone through it all and had come out healthy and ready to reclaim his starting spot for the DAWGS. Then, on the opening Saturday of the 2009 season for Georgia, Sturdivant landed awkwardly in Stillwater, Oklahoma and in a flash his season was over again.
Everyone felt for the young man. Every DAWG felt their heart sink. Not because of the impact that Sturdivant’s latest injury would have on that day in Stillwater or on the 2009 season, but because we all knew how hard the big man had worked to get back on the field. How could something like this happen to a young person who, by all accounts, does everything the right way…the Georgia way? Once again, the DAWGS would shuffle and re-shuffle the O-line and everyone was left to ponder what might have been.
Flash forward another year. Once again, Sturdivant has put in his work. Once again, he has put in all of the grueling hours of physical rehab, all of the lonely times when there was no one else to help him carry the weight of recovery. Once again, Sturdivant has gone through it all and had come out healthy and ready to reclaim his starting spot for the DAWGS. But this time, things are a little different. Not for #77. He is still the same wildly talented young man that walked off that field in New Orleans after a Sugar Bowl blowout victory over Hawaii. What IS different is the team Sturdivant will be walking back to. Sturdivant is walking back to a unit that gelled together well down the stretch last fall, coming off a strong final seven games of the 2009 season that saw the DAWGS rush for a total of 1,510 yards. Only time will tell how all this works out in the end. Will the return of a former All-America with a proven mettle bolster an already strong Georgia offensive line, or will Sturdivant’s presence prove unsettling for a unit that appears to be a strength heading into the 2010 season. The responsibility of putting it all back together rests at the feet of Coach Searels and Coach Bobo. Frankly, even when dealing with great players like Sturdivant and Clint Boling and Ben Jones, this is no easy task.
Now we find ourselves impatiently counting down the days until the start of the 2010 college football season. Everyone that is asked is saying that Trinton looks good and strong and on pace to be ready to reclaim his starting spot for the DAWGS. This is fantastic news for Sturdivant and for everyone else in the DAWG Nation. But what’s more, it says more than a little about what kind of young man Sturdivant is both on and off the field. It is a testament to the character of a student athlete that is willing to persevere through the toughest of challenges, far away from the bright lights and the roaring crowds. That, my fellow DAWGS, is worthy of a WOOF!
On September 4th, the DAWGS will go “between the hedges” and the 2010 season will get underway. Count those of us here at the BEAST among those that will be cheering a just a little bit louder when we see #77 jog onto the field in Athens for the first time since the DAWGS whipped Kentucky 24-13 on November 17th, 2007.