ATHENS - A lot has changed for Keith Marshall since the onslaught of injuries that transpired Oct. 5.
His dreadlocks have grown to where they hang past his cheeks and rest just above his jawline. He’s down about eight pounds since last season, having fluctuated from 220 pounds to a little over 230 and finally settling at 212 when he decided all the upper body work and eating had taken a noticeable toll. And after 10 arduous months, that ACL is ready to carry him through a game at Sanford Stadium again.
“The rehab process is a long process,” the Georgia running back said. “Sometimes it gets tiring. You get tired of doing it; you’re just ready to get back. But now looking back on it, it seems like just yesterday I tore my ACL and now I’m getting ready to play another game.”
Marshall devoted a lot of time to rehabilitation, but still spent significantly less time on football as a whole. That time away led to some introspective thinking with Malcolm Mitchell.
“We just started realizing that football’s not forever,” Marshall said. “It did give me a chance, I feel like, to grow as a person, a young man.”
Marshall’s mental growth as man paralleled his physical growth as a player.
In his time away from the field, Marshall decided he wanted to be challenged more in the classroom. The challenges of the rehabilitation process didn’t quite satisfy that desire, so Marshall welcomed another change and flipped his major from management to finance.
Although the running back is a little different inside and out, one thing remains consistent: his expectations for himself.
“Same expectations I have every year,” he said. “Be the best I can be.”
And Marshall feels like he can be that person, that player. He’s finishing runs harder, driving with his knees and leaning forward in his runs a bit less. Marshall, who rushed for 246 yards and one touchdown in five games before going down against Tennessee, is ready to finally focus on playing — not about getting back in the game.
“You can’t dwell on it,” he said. “You’ve got to work back through it and get ready and see what you’re going to do next year.”