ATHENS, Ga. — Signs of the strides Ken Malcome has made on and off the field as a Georgia tailback can’t be found just on the depth chart, where he sat at No. 1 entering the preseason.
No, the better indicator might be how Malcome deals with things when they don’t go exactly how he would like.
“If I mess up and get yelled at, I don’t pout and just shut down,” he said.
“I just take it and run with it.”
Ken Malcome 2.0 for the Bulldogs might have started to take shape when he cut the cord in late September, leaving the program ever so briefly before asking coach Mark Richt the next day if he could rejoin the team.
“I said, ‘Yeah, you can come back, but I’d like to see the best Ken Malcome you can possibly be,” Richt said this off-season. “He has turned it around in his attitude towards school, he has turned it around in his attitude towards practice.”
There have been bumps along the road.
Malcome was one of three running backs suspended for the New Mexico State game last November for reportedly failing a drug test, but he’s still here, unlike his friend Isaiah Crowell, who is now at Alabama State after being dismissed from Georgia after a felony weapons arrest in late June.
“I talk to him every day,” Malcome said. “I talk to him all the time about just staying humble and just change for the better.”
Sort of like Malcome.
“Oh, man, it’s a complete 180,” running backs coach Bryan McClendon said. “Now, he did have some things that we had to work through off the field that I think definitely affected how well he was taking stuff. Once I helped him out in that regard, where he was able to focus fully on football, you saw him make leaps and bounds.”
Malcome went from fifth-string at one point last year to leading Georgia in rushing in its final three games, including 51 yards on 12 carries in the Outback Bowl.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Usually having four new assistants is a big problem for a football staff. At South Carolina, it’s just Steve Spurrier’s latest step at chasing a Southeastern Conference title.
The Gamecocks head into the season with running backs coach Everette Sands, linebackers coach Kirk Botkin, secondary coach Grady Brown and special teams coordinator Joe Robinson – all first timers on a staff that led the Gamecocks to their most wins in a season ever at 11-2 last fall.
Add in Lorenzo Ward becoming the team’s first-time defensive coordinator and the loss of strength coach Craig Fitzgerald and it seems like a lot of turnover for a team on the rise.
“We haven’t had nearly the turnover some of those other boys have had,” Spurrier said with a grin Sunday.
Spurrier said the group’s quickly fit and kept the Gamecocks grinding through a largely quiet off-season.
In fact, Spurrier’s found it kind of fun to peek in on the new guys and find out how they do things. He’s done it a lot with Robinson, who coached at North Carolina last season and at LSU the three years before that.
“He knows his stuff,” Spurrier said. “I’ve really enjoyed coming in to special teams meetings and watching him explain things to the guys.”
Ward had been on South Carolina’s staff the previous three years and Spurrier promoted from within when defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson became head coach at Southern Miss last December.
Botkin picks up Ward’s position spot at linebacker with former Southern Miss assistant Brown essentially swapping places with ex-South Carolina secondary coach Jeep Hunter, now with Johnson on the Eagles’ staff.
Sands was hired to replace Jay Graham, who left to coach running backs at his alma mater of Tennessee.
Last year’s special teams coach John Butler took a spot on Bill O’Brien’s staff at Penn State as did Fitzgerald. Joe Connolly, Fitzgerald’s assistant at South Carolina, was promoted to lead the weight room.