ATHENS - It wasn't exactly a a resounding declaration, but Ken Malcome is set for now to be Georgia's starting tailback in next week's season opener.
Following Wednesday's final scrimmage, head coach Mark Richt said he was "pretty sure" Malcome will start, before adding that "something could change between now and then."
It remains a crowded picture at tailback, the team's most tumultuous position the past few years. Malcome and senior Richard Samuel are competing with freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall; Gurley has starred this preseason, leading the team in rushing each of the three scrimmages.
But Malcome getting the nod isn't a surprise: He finished last season as the tenuous co-starter with the since-dismissed Isaiah Crowell. Malcome then solidified the job in spring practice, when he was named the offensive most improved player.
“It’s a relief," Malcome said on Wednesday, upon being told of Richt's remarks. "I came from the bottom, and it’s just hard work. It tells people hard work it matters, it gets you where you want to go. I’m not gonna take it for granted. Because he said that, I’m not gonna let up. It’s still gonna be all me on the field, telling the freshmen what to do.
"I’m gonna be a leader. I feel like I’ve been a leader the last couple weeks. … I’m starting to feel like myself, who I really can be.”
Malcome said he's not sweating the competition from the freshmen.
"Actually people forget I'm still a year older than them, so I've still got a lot of time here too," Malcome said.
The exact pecking order at tailback remains a mystery, and Richt isn't in a hurry to clear it up.
"I haven't talked to the staff and talked about how we're gonna do it. Too early. But even when we do that I doubt I'll announce anything because I don't even want the guys to know," Richt said. "I'll just keep fighting, keep competing. We'll tell them the night before the game maybe."