On Saturday, Sturdivant, less than a year removed from Anson High School in Wadesboro, N.C., will become the first true freshman offensive lineman to start the first game of the season for Georgia since Mike Fellows in 1989.
“He doesn’t moan, doesn’t gripe, whatever you put in front of him, say, ‘Trinton you have to do this,’ that’s what he’ll do,” senior center Fernando Velasco said. “I expect him to be a great player for us in the future.”
How quickly that future comes is the question. Sturdivant has been helped by not missing a practice in the spring or fall, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
“The little things that make you a great player, he’s just going to have to learn through experience and playing in a game,” Bobo said. “We feel very good about his potential, but right now it’s potential.”
“It’s a different world from practice to the game,” said defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who played as a true freshman.
Sturdivant has made huge strides in the last week of practice, defensive end Marcus Howard said.
“I saw he got a lot tougher,” Howard said. “He’s not letting us bully him around. He’s becoming a man. He’s becoming a Georgia Bulldog.”
Facing defensive ends like Howard and Rod Battle has helped prepare Sturdivant for the speed of the SEC but not necessarily the size, Velasco said.
“The main thing I try to tell him is here at Georgia, we have real fast ends but smaller guys,” Velasco said. “He may not see the speed we have at Georgia but the defensive ends may be a little bigger. You may have some schools that have 270-, 280-pound defensive ends.”
Sturdivant won’t be alone in his inexperience. The Bulldogs are expected to start three first-year players on the offensive line – Sturdivant, redshirt freshman Chris Davis and junior college transfer Scott Haverkamp. The top backups at tackle and guard also will be first-year players, true freshman guard Clint Boling and junior college transfer Vince Vance at tackle.
“Does it concern me?” Richt said. “A little bit, but I have liked the way they’ve practiced. They are very talented young men who have worked hard. They seem to know what they’re doing. If the pressure doesn’t get to them, I think they’ll be OK.”
Justin Anderson and Kevin Perez also have a chance to get into the line rotation, Richt said.