USC Gamecocks Football

Injuries ended his football career, but Groves got the most from time as a Gamecock

South Carolina defensive back Ali Groves
South Carolina defensive back Ali Groves

What first struck Ali Groves was the free time.

The former South Carolina football player spent his first three years on campus playing football, his schedule filled with workouts, film sessions and practice. So it was a change last fall when he was suddenly a regular student.

“It was pretty weird at first,” Groves said. “Since I had so much time on my hands.”

Groves was a Gamecock who could never stay healthy enough to play. Across three seasons, he never saw the field, and took a medical hardship waiver in the summer of 2016.

But he didn’t come away too broken up about it, even when he had to talk to a new coach about leaving the game.

“It’s just been a history of injuries since I’ve been here,” Groves said. “Ever since I came my freshman year, I started off with surgery. Hamstring, achilles. So it’s a bit frustrating. I just wanted to sit down and talk with Muschamp and everything. They thought it was the best deal for me. It was just an opportunity to focus on life after college with my last semester. So it’s been a great experience.”

Groves admitted it was sad to leave being that close to friends on a daily basis and the bonds built across three years, but he instead turned to academics.

He graduated in three and a half years, boasting a 3.3 GPA with a degree in finance. He had a last semester to apply for jobs in that field, go through interviews and still have less to do than he did as a player.

Groves had job offers before walking at graduation and, according to his LinkedIn profile, was a management trainee with Cintas at the start of the year. He hoped to stay around Columbia in the short term, and perhaps move away to Charlotte eventually.

“It’s been a great experience since I’ve been here,” Groves said. “I had a history of injuries on the athletic side, but academically I had a lot of success, so one of my main focuses was academics. Just being able to push to that, keep God first, all my family and friends just encouraging me, it’s just a great experience. I’m just happy to be here.”