ATHENS – Two more Georgia football players have decided to continue their careers elsewhere.
Ken Malcome, a redshirt freshman running back from Decatur, and Derek Owens, a sophomore cornerback from Jacksonville, both asked head coach Mark Richt to be released from their scholarships and are seeking transfers. Including safety Jakar Hamilton, that’s now three players who have left the program during this season.
Owens’ departure was expected and has been in motion for a few days. Malcome’s decision was an obvious disappointment for Richt.
“[Malcome] walked into my office just prior to practice and felt like he had gotten so far behind in the competition at his position, he felt like he needed to go to another school and get a fresh start and maybe get a better opportunity to play,” Richt said Wednesday. “So that’s where we are on that.”
Malcome, an all-state player at Southwest DeKalb High, was expected to step to the forefront this season with Georgia’s attrition at tailback. But after Washaun Ealey and Caleb King exited the program, Malcome fell behind true freshman Isaiah Crowell, junior Carlton Thomas and former walkon Brandon Harton on the depth chart in preseason camp. He did not the make travel roster for Ole Miss and finishes his Georgia career with one carry for zero yards.
Richt said he’d welcome back Malcome back if the player changed his mind.
“If Ken came to me tomorrow and said, ‘Coach, I lost my mind and I’,m sorry and I’d love to come back and compete here at Georgia, I’d hug his neck and say ‘come on,’” Richt said.
Owens played in Georgia’s first three games on special teams but also didn’t make the trip to Ole Miss. He had two tackles this season and six while appearing in 12 games last season. Richt said he does not expect Owens to transfer to Cincinnati, as has been reported.
Malcome and Owens represent the 14th and 15th Georgia players to leave the program with eligibility remaining since the end of last season. That includes players such as A.J. Green and Justin Houston, who entered the NFL draft, and Tanner Strickland and Tanner Sturdivant, who were medically disqualified. (See chary below)
The majority, however, left either because they’d fallen behind on the depth chart or did not see eye-to-eye with the football staff.
“Most everybody we recruit was probably the best player on their team or one of the best players on their team,” Richt said. “So most of them think they’re going to show up and play. They get around athletes that are just as good as them and now they have to learn to compete. Sometimes they see the mountain as too high too climb and they decide to go somewhere else. And that’s fine if that’s what’s going on.
“I want all these guys to get an opportunity to play. I want them all to get an education. But I think there’s value in fighting for your job.”
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