But in the spring of 2004 Ken Shackleford was rewarded for his dedication. He was a recipient of Georgia’s Iron Man Award. It’s something that the Dawgs hand out to only a few deserving players who don’t miss a summer workout or practice for an entire season.
Dedication aside, Shackleford thinks there are ways he can improve his game.
“I need to work on my flexibility,” he said in a matter-of-fact fashion. “That was the main thing last season that hurt me. I’ve got to start learning to bend my knees more because I play on the high side.”
At 6-5, 314 Shackleford is one of the tallest players on the team, so it’s understandable that he would, at times, struggle staying low – it’s something Offensive Line Coach Neil Callaway stresses, and sometimes screams to Shackleford.
“I know deep down Coach Callaway wants the best for me. Everyone has their day when Coach gives it to them, but 9 times out of ten he’s just trying to make me better,” he said.
Shackleford’s improvement was the reason his playing time increased in 2004. Besides the Iron Dawg Award, Shackleford was also a recipient of the Junkyard Dog Award and the Most Improved Offensive Lineman Award. His improved play has earned him more playing time in Georgia’s tackle rotation.
“I think we’ll have a three-tackle rotation, much like it was the last seven or so games of last season,” said Shackleford. “I think I could start if someone went down.”
Shackleford did, in fact, start one game in 2004 – Vanderbilt. That game Dennis Roland was injured and did not play. Shackleford has only played split tackle while at Georgia, and that seems to be where he will stay – at least in the near future.
Chester Adams is backing up Roland on the tight side, but Daniel Inman has shown the ability to rotate to both tackle spots. Georgia’s current tackle situation sure beats where the Dawgs were in 2003 with guard Max Jean-Gilles patrolling the end of the line with virtually no depth at that spot.