May 3, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Sean Bedford was never one to complain about learning and performing the complexities of Paul Johnson’s Spread Option offense.
It was simply a hurdle that needed to be cleared on the way to his next challenge.
Once on his radar, anything was possible for Bedford, who would start at center his final two years at Georgia Tech (2009-10), during which he was named All-ACC First Team and nominee for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top center.
The same could be said of his academic career at Georgia Tech.
Majoring in aerospace engineering simply wasn’t enough. There had to be more, like…maybe pre-law!
What started as a class taken, “sort of on a whim,” piqued his interest, growing into a minor and eventually morphing into a passion and his career path.
“I had a professor, Larry Keller, who teaches business law and Internet law,” Bedford said. “I took his class sort of on a whim and really fell in love with it. Through his guidance and just tracing the Pre-Law opportunities through the Minor of law, science and technology, I decided that law was what I wanted to do. I found that little bit of a niche career that allows me to put my engineering degree to use and I’ve loved every second of it.
“It was a nice counter-balance to aerospace engineering and sort of exercise different parts of my mind,” he added. “If you’re willing to sacrifice sleep you can get it all in but I wouldn’t suggest it over the long haul, that’s for sure.”
Fast forward to this past week. Bedford took his final exams, to complete his law degree at the University of Florida, from which he’s scheduled to graduate on May 16. He enjoyed being back in his hometown of Gainesville, and getting to spend time with his parents and sisters, in pursuit of the degree.
Predictably, just studying law wasn’t enough.
While earning his degree, he also got involved helping out with the Florida Law Review, a scholarly publication of the UF Law School…as managing editor!
“We were very excited this year to be cited by the Supreme Court and so that was a very big moment for us,” he said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience. It’s been difficult and trying at times because some of the work can be a bit tedious, but it’s been a privilege to work for the Law Review and it’s something that I’m very happy I had the opportunity to do.”
Making the most of his opportunities is something Bedford has always done. He was named the Gainesville Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year after leading Buchholz High to three city and a pair of district championships, as a defensive lineman. He then walked on at Tech in 2006.
“Coach Johnson liked the way I was playing on the scout team and gave me an opportunity to come and compete to play on their offensive line,” he said. “It worked out pretty well for me.”
So well that he’d see time as a sophomore, and start his final two years, earning All-ACC First Team honors on the 2009 ACC Champions (later vacated) and the conference’s top rushing offense, then, be named a finalist for the Rimington Trophy and win the inaugural Burlsworth Trophy awarded to the top player who began his career as a walk-on, as he anchored the O-line on the nation’s top rushing attack.
He’s especially proud of the Burlsworth, and was even prouder to see Yellow Jackets A-Back Robert Godhigh named a finalist for this year’s award.
“I was honestly overjoyed to see Robbie get his nomination,” said Bedford, who gave a speech at this year’s presentation. “He has worked so incredibly hard and he’s done such tremendous things for the football team and also as a student at Tech. He embodied many of the traits that the Burlsworth Trophy seeks to reward. It continues to amaze me the accomplishments that young men who walk on to football teams have been able to accomplish. To have someone like Robbie representing our institution, is something we should all be very proud of.”
Bedford will return to Atlanta shortly and proudly represent the firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, where he’ll focus on Intellectual Property Law and patents.
“I’ll be putting my engineering degree to use that way,” he said. “Intellectual Property Law is practiced before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. If you’re going to be a patent lawyer you have to also have an engineering degree or a hard sciences degree. Personally I fit in very well for that.”
That won’t be all he’s up to, of course.
He’ll continue to stay in touch with Georgia Tech football, as part of the Georgia Tech Radio Network through IMG.
“It’s a lot of fun having an opportunity to see the game from different angles and to be involved, albeit in a different capacity,” he said. “I think one of the biggest concerns a lot of former athletes have when they hang up their cleats is that they’re going to be left behind. This is a way to stay engaged and stay involved without the physical toll that actually playing takes on you.”
Bedford covered the recent Spring Game and while the conditions were hardly ideal, they did bring back memories.
“I’ll say this much, games like that, from an offensive lineman’s point of view, are a lot more fun to play in,” he said. “It’s a little different as a center because you have to snap the ball and you don’t want to get yelled at by Coach for fumbling snaps. You don’t really love it when it’s wet but I think all the players were having more fun than the fans because anytime it’s miserably cold and wet like that you’d rather be moving around than standing still.”
He also liked what he saw from the young O-Line and the team.
“Anytime you replace three starters like the line is doing right now you’re going to face challenges,” he said. “Now, obviously, there’s some young talent that has the opportunity to step up and make some contributions this coming year. I’m excited about the offensive line. They may need a little bit of time to figure out exactly where everyone fits and to refine their talent, but the ceiling is much higher than where they are right now.
“As far as the team as a whole, I love the way the defense is playing,” he added. “The attacking style that Coach [Ted] Roof has brought and the sort of simplification that allows the players to just get out and play has yielded tremendous results and I think it’s going to continue to. I’m excited to see what happens from the quarterback position. I think Tim Byerly and Justin Thomas bring a lot to the table and the 1-2 punch is going to be a lot of fun to watch.”
Not that Bedford plans on being just a spectator.
“I’ll be working for Finnegan, Henderson, starting in September,” he said. “Between now and then I’ll be travelling with my girlfriend to Guatemala to study for the bar and to, I guess, serve as her security while she’s working for the World Bank down there. Then it’s up to Atlanta and I guess real life starts.”
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