There was a time when Trip Thurman thought he saw his career as a Florida Gators football offensive lineman heading down the drain. Actually there were two.
Well, if we want to get technical, there were three.
The first was as a sophomore, getting cited with two misdemeanor charges within three months of each other.
“That was probably the low point of my career, and I’ve learned from it. It was immature,” recalls a much more mature Thurman.
That was the personal time though; there was also a team low point.
“Obviously going 4-8 as a team, that’s a low point for anybody, especially at a program like this, that should never happen.”
And then, there was the injury.
“There was question of me coming back,” admits Thurman.
“Labrum tear last season going into this season, I didn’t know if I wanted to get surgery again and had a meeting with Coach Mac, Coach Summers and everybody. I said I wanted to come back so rehabbed throughout the spring, all summer and I haven’t had any problems… I couldn’t let my team down. I love this team and I love football and I didn’t want to miss out on my senior year, missing out with these guys.”
It’s that dedication and loyalty that have also pushed Trip Thurman to grow into the man he could be while with the Florida Gators.
It’s that dedication and loyalty that pushed his boundaries and out of his comfort zone, into a place where his team needed him, like center stage.
Before each Gators practice, the team lines up for “Swamp Jacks”, there version of jumping jacks. It begins by one player yelling for the team to get ready. This requires lots of energy, a bit of a crazed attitude and a really loud voice—attributes Thurman didn’t see himself carrying.
“I had to take on that role a little bit and I was up for it,” says Thurman now.
“First time over the summer it was a little awkward but I get into the zone and it’s kinda crazy, they’re like ‘aw man Trip I’ve never seen you like that’ but it’s definitely a great experience but it’s important that older guys step up and be that kinda guy.”
One place Trip puts aside the “rah-rah” and becomes all business is on the field.
During his time with the Florida Gators, Thurman has started 21 games while playing in 38. This season alone he’s been named a captain for three different games, moved from left to right guard and helped establish more a running game than the Swamp has seen in the past couple of years.
Running back Kelvin Taylor is already missing the big body that has been providing him with lanes.
“Trip man, just wonderful guy,” expresses Taylor.
“He’s a great football player. It’s gonna suck just not having a guy like that around. We just got to send those guys off the right way.”
As the Florida Gators do send off their seniors on Saturday, there will be lots of tears, especially on the field.
Thurman is prepared for those, even at his pride’s expense.
“[Don’t get emotional] very often,” admits Trip because, “the o-line has that tough guy persona I guess you could say but I guess you could say we’re all big sensitive teddy bears at one point… My mom’s the crier of the family so once I see her shedding some tears I think I might tear up a little bit.”
Then as the game comes to a close and the Swamp clears out, Trip Thurman will walk off Florida Field one last time, carrying with him five years of memories, but holding this last one, his final one, close to the heart.
“This season; it’s been an incredible ride with these young guys and moving forward it’s incredible.”