Although the college football world remains enamored with Georgia’s freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, sophomore Ken Malcome remains far from forgotten on the home front.
Running back Ken Malcome (24) scores Georgia's lone touchdown in the Bulldogs' 35-7 loss to South Carolina last Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
The 6-foot, 226-pound running back from Atlanta’s Southwest DeKalb High School scored the No. 14 Bulldogs’ only touchdown in last Saturday’s 35-7 pounding at the hands of No. 3 South Carolina. Although Malcome’s scoring dash merely prevented Georgia from being shut out for the first time since 1995 (a 31-0 loss to Alabama), his rushing on the Bulldogs’ final possession of the night was symbolic of a team’s refusal to give in.
“It was all right,” said Malcome of his fourth-quarter work, picking up a team-leading 45 yards on five carries. “We still lost. It would have felt better if we’d won, but they came out and beat us. From a personal standpoint, I thought I did pretty well with the opportunity I was given. It was OK, but we still lost, and I’m not OK with that.”
“There’s no doubt we got our butts kicked, but Ken came in and definitely provided a spark,” freshman tackle John Theus said. “He came in there and did a good job, and from that drive, you can take that we don’t give up. No matter how bad we were getting beat, we didn’t give up, we kept fighting, and I’m proud of that. And Ken was a big part of it the way he ran the ball. It definitely showed we weren’t going to quit on each other.”
Malcome has had a colorful career at Georgia. After redshirting as a true freshman, he found himself far down the depth chart as the 2011 season began.
He briefly quit the team last September and drew a one-game suspension in November before starting against Georgia Tech, leading the team in rushing in the Southeastern Conference Championship game and then starting the Bulldogs’ Outback Bowl game against Michigan State.
But the arrival of Gurley and Marshall to campus has shifted Malcome back to the sidelines, although he’s covered his share of ground this fall. He’s played in five of Georgia’s six games and has rushed for 197 yards and the first two touchdowns of his college career. He doesn’t know if his performance at South Carolina will earn him more snaps, but he’s preparing himself just the same.
“I don’t know (about additional opportunities),” he said. “I don’t get too many chances on the field, but I always say to myself to go out there and do what I’ve got to do, and I feel I’ve done that the last couple of games, getting a couple of carries and taking advantage of my opportunities. Until the end of the season, I’m going to keep going.”
The veteran back has earned laurels from his teammates for his decidedly hard-nosed style of running.
“Ken’s a hard runner,” sophomore center David Andrews said. “He’s been banged up a bit, but he’s a hard runner and it showed. Ken’s a great guy, and it was good for him to get back there and get grinding again. He stepped up last season — I think people remember the SEC Championship game, where he was pounding the rock a little bit. He’s a hard-nosed, downhill runner, and he’s a great guy.”
Although he’s contributed to the offense in terms of averaging about six carries and 40 yards per outing, Malcome had hoped he’d be more involved at this juncture of the season and his career.
A broken hand suffered in the Buffalo game might have slowed his progress, Malcome reasoned.
“A lot has happened since the beginning of the season, as far as the injury to my hand, which has held me back,” he said. “Things haven’t gone as planned, so I was set back from where I wanted to be by this point in the season.
“I thought I’d be farther along at this point, but not everybody has All-American careers. You take what God gives you and what opportunity gives you and go with it. I’m always ready. I’ve got experience — there’s no pressure on me. I know how to run the ball against a college team. When I get in, I just run the ball and let things take place without thinking.”
Like baseball’s pinch hitter and basketball’s sixth man, Malcome knows he can be called upon at any time to get in the game and make something happen.
“I’m always ready,” he said. “If they call me, I’ll do it proudly.”