Ken Malcome's opportunity to make his mark as a contributing member of Georgia's backfield has never been greater.
With Washaun Ealey's status currently up in the air, after being suspended indefinitely by head coach Mark Richt, the door is open for the redshirt freshman from Decatur to make some major points with coaches when the Bulldogs kick off spring practice March 10.
As UGASports continues its pre-spring position breakdown, we examine the running backs, a position sure to get plenty of attention between now and the opener at the Georgia Dome against Boise State.
Malcome plans to be right in the middle of the discussion.
"I came to Georgia to compete for spots, so that's what I'm going to do," Malcome said during a recent interview. "I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing - running hard, pay attention in film (sessions) and just doing my best every day."
Malcome might not have a better chance to do just that.
If Ealey is out of the picture, Malcome's main challenger for the starting tailback job figures to be Caleb King, who was suspended for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl after skipping out on some mandatory academic meetings late last semester.
Bulldog officials haven't commented on the senior since his suspension, other than to say he is working out with his teammates during the on-going winter strength and conditioning program, but a healthy King will certainly be in the picture as well.
Ditto for Carlton Thomas, who has had his moments but has yet to prove he can become an every-down back.
Of course, everything figures to change come fall when Isaiah Crowell arrives on campus. But until then, the job obviously remains wide open.
Like many freshmen, it took the young back a little bit of time to get accustomed to playing with athletes older and more certain of their abilities than he.
But as the weeks passed, Malcome said he began to grow more confident and come spring drills is ready to show what he can truly do.
"I feel it's my time," Malcome said.
Position coach Bryan McClendon has been pleased with what he's seen.
"Obviously, Ken's still a young guy but he's been working hard," McClendon said while in Memphis. "There's a lot he still needs to do, but we like him. He's done everything we've asked."
Had it not been for a mid-season concussion, Malcome might have received his shot to play as a true freshman.
But thanks to a collision with linebacker Akeem Dent, Malcome lost two weeks of practice and as a result coaches decided to hold him out for the rest of the year.
There have been no lingering effects.
Malcome believes he can bring a different dynamic to the Bulldog backfield than what's been there in recent years.
"I probably run with a little more power than the other guys," Malcome said, referring to Thomas, Ealey and King. "But we're all good backs and bring different things."
Flash forward to 2011.
One thing Malcome won't do, apparently, is play fullback.
When asked specifically if Malcome would be a candidate to play the position following the graduation of Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier, Richt gave an emphatic "no."
"Of course, I'd do whatever the coaches asked, but for now I'm a tailback," Malcome said. "Nobody has said anything to me about that (fullback)."
Malcome said confidence won't be a problem, and even with the addition of Crowell, the former Southwest DeKalb standout sees no reason he can't be an integral part of the team's backfield come fall.
"Sometimes as a freshman you come in, you feel uncomfortable and you don't really know what to do," he said. "But once you get out of that shell, you start talking more and get more comfortable with everybody around you; it starts to slow down for you. That's where I think I'm at right now."
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