Kendall Milton 100% healthy, happy to be in ‘big moments’ for Bulldogs

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Junior running back Kendall Milton scored more touchdowns in Georgia’s season opener than he had in his two previous seasons with the Bulldogs.

Not only had Milton been playing behind James Cook and Zamir White, but injuries largely hampered his playing time. So, he certainly welcomed being a full participant in Georgia’s 49-3 demolition of Oregon on Saturday.

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But it wasn’t as hard for him as you may think to stay patient.

“It was really great,” Milton said Wednesday of finding success after battling injuries. “But at the same time during the whole process, my teammates stayed in my ear. They told me that they were going to stay with me. I was doing all the rehab, in the training room and everything that I needed to do to get back on the field as soon as possible. … My teammates had my back the whole time. It made the process really easy to come back on the field.

“It’s meant the world to me, especially in the past with the knee injuries, during those times it was kind of hard, but they would always tell me keep your head up, your time’s going to come, and that’s what I did. I just kept my head down, kept working and kept doing what I need to do to get back on the field, and I’m just happy that I could be in big moments with my teammates.”

No. 3 Georgia taking down No. 11 Oregon in such dominant fashion definitely qualifies as a big moment. The Bulldogs have since moved up to No. 2 in the AP poll, with their home opener vs. Samford approaching Saturday. Milton had one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown, leading Georgia with 50 rushing yards on eight carries.

If he stays healthy, Milton will likely take on a much larger role for Georgia this season than he has in years past. Injuries contributed to him playing in just seven games in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, and a hamstring injury limited him in the preseason.

Fortunately, he was still able to do leg and upper-body workouts, plus some running to stay in shape, during camp.

But, Milton felt 100% healthy against Oregon.

At this point in his Georgia career, Milton said he’s much more comfortable catching out of the backfield and reading the defense. His patience playing behind older guys may be about to pay off, for Milton and Georgia.

“I’m definitely excited to take on a bigger role with this team, but at the same time, even coming up as a freshman, as a sophomore, I knew that it was all about trusting the process, because at a school like this we’re always going to have five stars, four-star running backs coming in back-to-back-to-back, so at a certain point you’ve kinda just gotta wait your turn,” Milton said. “And at the end of the day, everybody’s gonna get their turn, it’s just you’ve got to be humble enough and look at yourself and realize that you still have aspects to your game that you have to fully develop before you take on a bigger role.”

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