April 17, 2014
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Heading into tomorrow night's Spring game, senior running back Ken Malcome is quietly having a solid spring for the Saluki football team. In two scrimmages, he has 21 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
The Georgia transfer describes himself as a one-cut, power back, and says he's more focused than ever as he prepares for his final college season.
Q&A with Ken Malcome
When you were in high school you were one of the top 10 running backs in the nation. What were some of the schools you were considering out of high school and why did you choose Georgia?
"My top schools were Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma and Florida. I wanted my family to come see me play and I wanted to stay close to home, so I picked Georgia." And how did you wind up deciding to go to Georgia?"
What were some of the highlights for you during your two years at Georgia?
"In the LSU game, the SEC Championship, my first catch of the year I ran over Morris Claiborne. He plays for the Dallas Cowboys now. After the game, he came up to me and acknowledged me. He's also good friends with my cousin and he knows we're related. He's always saying he wishes he could get that back."
What's it like when you're on the field playing a game against LSU?
"It's a lot of pressure, because as a freshman, all you're thinking about is `Don't mess up,' that's your biggest fear is messing up. But once you get a couple snaps and you get a good feeling, it's just football, you just have to get comfortable and you go and play your best game."
You played a bowl game, the Outback Bowl, and had a pretty good game against Michigan State, what was that like?
"I was fighting to get playing time in my last couple games. My first carry of the game, my shoulder dislocated. People didn't know that, and I still played the whole game. Ever since then I've had a tougher mentality."
"I told my coach it happened, but I told him I didn't want to stop. It was an opportunity to play, and I wasn't going to miss it."
Was it right after your sophomore year that you decided to transfer?
"Yeah. I guess my time was up. They thought they had a better chance with someone else, so I respect that."
How did you wind up with Southern?
Was it also important that you could play right away?
"Yeah, because I had a couple schools I could have gone to and sat out a year, but I wasn't interested in doing that."
What do you like about Southern Illinois?
"Coming from a big school, this is just as good. This is still a pretty good size school. Obviously, they had more fans and a bigger stadium, but as far as our equipment and everything, it's cool."
Last year, you kind of split carries in the backfield. How did you feel your first year went?
"It didn't go how I wanted it to go. A lot of things can play into football not going right. But this year I have a different mentality and mindset. I know it's my last go-around, so there's nothing else I can say, I just have to go do it."
What are your goals for this year?
"Winning a championship. To win a championship, that means everybody has to be the best we can. If we win a championship, that means I did my job, and I met my goals. My goal is to win a championship. So me running the ball, that's all cool, but if we don't win a championship, none of that means anything."
Malcolm Agnew is more of a speed back and you're more of a power back. How well do you think your styles complement each other?
"Malcolm's real speedy, and I know I'm a power back and a one-cut guy, so I won't try to go in over my head and do things I'm not used to doing. So I think it's just me crafting my craft and doing what I have to do. I feel like I'm a lot faster with my feet this year."
You seem more comfortable and confident as a runner than last season. Would you agree with that?
"I'm more focused. Even when I'm not running I still need to be focused. Every day since the season ended I took more pride in working out, getting my feet right, and just being a good person. All that fell in place in football this spring. It's been a good spring."