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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

For now, it's all downhill for Ken Malcome

Someday, Ken Malcome thinks he can be an every-down back on the Georgia football team. At the moment, however, the redshirt freshman tailback knows his ticket to seeing the field.

“I know my role. I know my role to play,” he said. “I’m not a scat-back, I’m not a shifty back. I like going downhill, that’s what I like to do. That’s what I plan to do.”

It may seem that the tailback competition is in a holding pattern this spring, as everyone waits for Isaiah Crowell to arrive. But the players still in camp are trying to position themselves to split carries with Crowell – or even start over the ballyhooed recruit.

Among the incumbents, Malcome is in perhaps the best position, simply because he’s an empty vessel. Caleb King, Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas have each had their chance to shine in real games; none of them could clamp down the position.

Malcome, on the other hand, sat out last season. The coaches were tempted several times to pull the redshirt off, especially during King and Ealey’s various suspensions and injuries. But they elected to preserve Malcome’s eligibility for another year.

“Myself personally I thought I could’ve played,” Malcome said. “But after awhile I realized I was not ready.”

What did he still need to work on? Malcome mentioned blocking schemes, and admitted he got discouraged not knowing some run plays.

Off the field it helped too, as he put it in a blunt, depreceating way.

“I never was a brainiac in school, but I always did my best to try to get by,” Malcome said. “Now I see how important school is, football can be gone for you any time. I’ve buckled down.”

He says he’s carrying a 3.0 GPA now, by the way. Appropriately, he’s an education major.

The tailback situation could still shake out in a number of ways. King appears to be having an outstanding spring. (Malcome said King has served as a mentor to him since he arrived on campus.) Ealey has been injured. The 5-foot-7 Thomas seems to have a ceiling as a change-of-pace back.

Malcome was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals and Scout coming out of Southwest Dekalb High School. He was also a sprinter on the track team, pretty good for someone now listed at 6-foot and 218 pounds.

“I feel like I have four more years here. At the end of my four years I’ll be a better every-down back,” Malcome said. “I feel like I could do that now, but it’s a crowded backfield. Coaches want to use us in every aspect of the game. … But in the next couple years, I think I’ll be an every-down back, and be ready to just take (the ball) down one-through-four.”

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