Thirty-five days remain until Georgia kicks off its season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1. In the days counting down to the opener, DawgNation will profile, with our “Around the Hedges in 80 Days” series, a Bulldogs player we expect to make an impact. We will review each player’s career thus far and project his long-term potential as we progress through our alphabetical list, from center David Andrews to receiver Rantavious Wooten.
35. Ken Malcome
Sophomore, Running back
6-foot-0, 226 pounds
Fall forecast: When spring practice concluded, it was reasonable to wonder whether Malcome could really remain the co-No. 1 tailback alongside last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell. After Crowell’s dismissal last month, Malcome enters preseason camp as Georgia’s top tailback. Now the question is whether he will hold onto the job ahead of Richard Samuel, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. He did some nice things at the end of last season and by all accounts had a great spring, but he has played only sparingly thus far. Let’s see how he fares the first time he gets 20 carries in a game before we pronounce him the starter for the season.
Career highlight: Malcome’s most memorable play last season came in the fourth quarter of Georgia’s blowout loss to LSU. With Georgia trailing 28-10 midway through the quarter, Malcome caught a swing pass and first slipped a tackle attempt by Ron Brooks before flattening LSU cornerback -- and eventual first-round NFL pick -- Mo Claiborne for a 17-yard gain that gave Bulldogs fans their first reason to cheer in some time.
Experience thus far: Malcome played in six games as a redshirt freshman in 2011 -- including the last five, two of which he started -- and rushed for 174 yards on 42 carries. He led the Bulldogs in rushing in each of the last three games, including a career-high 51 yards on 12 carries in the season finale against Michigan State.
Possible career impact: Less than a year ago, it appeared as if Malcome would complete his career elsewhere as he briefly quit the team before opting to return. He finally got the opportunity to play that he desired toward the end of the season and fared reasonably well. If he continues his progress from the spring during the month of August, he has every reason to believe he will play a key role -- if not a starting role -- once the season begins. The tailback position has its share of talent, as Samuel, Marshall and Gurley will all get their opportunities, as well, but Malcome’s tough running style will certainly earn him some chances.