Around the University of Georgia’s Vince Dooley Athletic Complex, he’s known as Trinton Sturdivant, an offensive lineman whose massive potential has been hindered by a trio of season-ending knee injuries.
Around the Terry College of Business, he’s known as Ty Sturdivant, a student whose massive potential will mark a milestone in December when he graduates with a double major in finance and management.
“I have a dual identity,” says the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Sturdivant. “I feel like you have to in order to excel at both athletics and academics.”
A native of Wadesboro, N.C., Sturdivant graduated early from high school (where he carried a 4.1 grade point average and was president of his school’s student council) and enrolled at Georgia in January 2007, choosing the Bulldogs over Florida, Penn State and Notre Dame.
His first year in college football amounted to a dream season, as he earned a starting spot in the preseason and started all 13 games at left tackle for a Bulldogs team that went 11-2 and finished the year ranked No. 2 in the country. Freshman All-America honors capped Sturdivant’s year.
“The last time a true freshman started at left tackle [for Georgia] was 1989, which was the year I was born,” Sturdivant said. “I finished the season with All-American status. Our team was No. 2 in the nation, and we went to the Sugar Bowl. I’m feeling on top of the world.”
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. pegged Sturdivant, who was hailed as the best lineman in the SEC, as a top pick in the NFL draft. But what seemed a sure thing soon suffered a setback when during the second summer practice of 2008 Sturdivant tore a ligament in his left knee, causing him to miss the season. The frustration mounted a year later when he sustained another season-ending knee injury, this time in the season opener against Oklahoma State.
Sturdivant’s injury problems didn’t hinder his off-field work, however. He earned admission to the highly demanding finance major at Terry and climbed the ranks of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.
“Between finance, football and being in a fraternity, I was pretty stressed out my first three years at Georgia, but I understood that when I decided to major in finance,” he says. “When I put my mind to something, I can get pretty focused, and I’ve found that I really excel under pressure.”
Sturdivant suffered his third major injury in April when he tore a ligament in his right knee during Georgia’s first spring scrimmage, again ending his season before it started. But his resolve in the classroom became even stouter. Taking a heavy load of three management classes this summer, he made the Dean’s List with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“It was disappointing to get hurt again, especially when this is something I’ve been doing for so long. Now I’m actually facing the possibility of it being over,” he says. “You have to be a different person away from football and, over the summer, I’d been trying to concretely form who I am at Terry College. In athletics, I’m a veteran and I’m Trinton Sturdivant. At Terry, I’m just a regular student. I feel it’s time for me to step outside the box and make a name for myself – Ty – in academics.”
“He’s a great student, and he’s very sincere,” says Annette Poulsen, the Sterne Chair of Banking and Finance, who had Sturdivant for Corporate Finance Theory in spring 2011. “He was always conscientious, always wanted to be in the right place at the right time, and always wanted to do the right thing. I think you could tell that the other students all knew he was a football player, but they respected him as a student. They knew he was working hard just like the rest of them.“
Sturdivant can apply to the NCAA for another year of eligibility, but he’s not making his plans public yet. He says he has applied to the Graduate School to pursue a master’s degree in sports management.
“It’s been a roller coaster throughout the years – lots of highs and lows,” says Sturdivant, who also hasn’t ruled out taking a shot at professional football. “I’m facing a real decision about whether to continue football, but doing something to the best of my ability has been what has driven me to keep going.”
Sturdivant says that when he signed with Georgia he had not become familiar with the reputation of the Terry College, but he’s certainly become an advocate since he chose his major.
“I didn’t come to Georgia with the knowledge that Terry College was so prestigious,” he says. “I was fortunate to be able to get into Terry. I was also fortunate enough to be able to come off the high of football to have something just as great, which was coming to Terry. I’ve been blessed. It’s been a grind but hopefully it will pay off in the future.”