Monday, April 11, 2011

Impact Of Losing Sturdivant


sturdivant_trintonKnee injuries are fairly common in football, one player sustaining three is not.

Senior left tackle Trinton Sturdivant is faced with yet another journey down the year long road to recovery following Saturday’s ACL tear. It’s a well worn path and he knows every bump along the way. The first two injuries were to his left knee, this time it’s the right one.

Sturdivant attended Anson High School in Wadesboro, North Carolina where the 6-5, 280 pound lineman became an Army All American and was recruited by nearly every major university in the country. He chose the Dawgs on April 16, 2006 and quickly took over the left tackle position after arriving on campus in the fall of 2007. The true freshman started 13 games and was honored by being named a Freshman All American as well as making the All SEC Freshman Team.

Sturdivant’s sophomore season looked bright and there was already talk of the NFL future that lay ahead. During pre-season camp his left knee exploded and in that instant his future changed. He missed the entire 2008 season.

DSC_0303The fall of 2009 saw the big man back on the field, his rehab complete. The only obstacle to overcome was the mental aspect of not knowing if the knee would hold up to contact. During the third quarter of the opening game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma the question was answered.

The play was to the left side and Sturdivant was all alone when the knee buckled under him.

The long, lonely hours of grueling rehab gave him less than forty five minutes of playing time.

DSC_0308The second surgery was performed using a different technique and the knee held up just fine as he played in 12 games, starting 7 of them at his usual left tackle position in 2010.

The question now is not can he fight back a third time, he’s proven that he is up to that task, but is the reward worth the effort? Is it time to hang up the knee braces and move on to another challenge?

The effects of multiple knee injuries will likely haunt him as he grows older.

What options do the Dawgs have to realign the offensive line?

DSC_5683The first is to move backup A. J. Harmon(#70, 6-5, 345) into the left tackle spot and leave everyone else where they have been all spring. Harmon is a rising redshirt junior who has played the position before but has only played in 7 games during his career. He missed the trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis due to academic problems.

The second option is to move Cordy Glenn (6-5, 348) from right tackle to the left side. He was the starting left guard last season before moving to right tackle this spring. The problem then becomes, who plays on the right side? The options there are Harmon or Austin Long (6-5, 304), Kolton Houston (6-5, 291) and incoming freshmen Watts Dantzler (6-7, 320), none of the latter three have ever taken a snap under game conditions.

The first two options involve moving the fewest players but offensive line coach Will Friend has stated that the best five will play and the only sure thing is that Ben Jones will be the center.

DSC_1545The most athletic lineman is sophomore Kenarious Gates (#72, 6-5, 328), who has worked all spring at the left guard position. The possibility of seeing Gates move out to tackle and Harmon, Houston or Chris Burnette (6-2, 313) play guard is also feasible. Sophomore Dallas Lee (6-4, 300) has suffered from asthma like symptoms most of the spring.

Senior Justin “Bean” Anderson (6-5, 342) has all but locked down the right guard position although the possibility exist that he could move to right tackle if Burnette or Lee show they are ready this fall.

With redshirt freshman Brent Benedict (6-5, 312) nearing a complete recovery from his own devastating knee injury and the arrival of freshmen tackles Zach DeBell (6-7, 290) and Xzavier Ward (6-7, 280) this fall, there will be plenty of available large bodies but very little experience to replace a potential All American like Sturdivant.

Will Friend has a lot of work to do, here’s my two cents.

Left TackleKenarious Gates / Zach DeBell / Xzavier Ward

Left GuardA. J. Harmon / Kolton Houston / Hunter Long

CenterBen Jones / Chris Burnette / David Andrews

Right GuardJustin Anderson / Dallas Lee / Brent Benedict

Right TackleCordy Glenn / Austin Long / Watts Dantzler

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