DECATUR - Kendrun Malcome and T.J. Stripling are cousins and best friends.
However, when it came to deciding what college Stripling would eventually attend, Malcome kept his opinion to himself.
The running back committed to Georgia three weeks ago, but in the time that's passed, Stripling said his cuz never pushed him to join him in Athens.
"No, he left me alone," Stripling said. "He let me make my decision myself. He actually didn't say anything about it. He let me make up my own mind which is just what I wanted to do."
Malcome said he would have wanted Stripling to do the same had the roles been reversed.
"I didn't push him to come to school with me," Malcome said. "I wanted him to do what was best for him. It just worked out that he fit best with Georgia."
Don't get the cousins wrong.
Both Stripling and Malcome are ecstatic that they'll both be in Athens starting in the fall of 2010.
In fact, both players attended numerous camps together over the past couple of summers, including several to Georgia and three to Florida, which came in second for their respective services.
But despite their common background and family ties, Stripling actually thought they might be going their separate ways.
That is, until Malcome chose the Bulldogs and Stripling began having second thoughts.
"His decision influenced mine a little bit," Stripling said. "I'm just glad to get everything over with. I'm doing it a little quicker than I thought I would. We had always kind of talked about going to the same school, but neither of us thought it was going to happen. It just turned out that way."
Malcome said although they play on the opposite side of the ball, the two will continue pushing each other on and off the field once they arrive in Athens.
"Running-wise, if I'm slacking off and he sees me, he'll tell me to do a better job," Malcome said. "But at the same time, if I see him slacking I'm going to be there telling him to step it up."
Stripling joked that there was a time when Malcome could have physically imposed his will on his cousin.
"When we were growing up he was always bigger than me," Stripling said. "He was always the one with the muscles and the one everyone always thought would make it in football. But look at me now."
At 6-foot-6, Stripling tickles the scales at 215 pounds, but is expected to add approximately 45 pounds to that frame before his playing days at Georgia are done.
"Georgia's going to be getting a great pass rusher," Malcome said. "He knows how to get after the quarterback. He's going to fit in real well."
Malcome said having a 6-6 player at defensive end certainly can have its advantages.
"He's great at knocking down passes," Malcome said. "There were a couple of times his ninth-grade here when he'd do that. I'm glad I'll get to see him do that some more."
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