Kaleb Broome figured his days as a football player were numbered.
It was late in his senior season at Aiken High, and he didn’t have the grades to attend college and hadn’t considered football as an option to help him continue his education. But Georgia Military coach Bert Williams opened a door following Broome’s final prep game, offering him the chance to play football at the Milledgeville junior college.
Two seasons later, Broome’s grades have improved and he’s on the verge of making the next move in his playing career. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive tackle has committed to South Carolina and plans to enroll in January. He will have three years to complete two seasons of eligibility.
“Being in the GMC cadet corps has really been great for me,” Broome said. “It’s really showed me how to use my time wisely. I had terrible study habits in high school. That’s why I’m here. They taught me academics are really important. I didn’t understand that in high school.
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“GMC has instilled a lot of discipline and responsibility in me. I know how to handle certain situations.”
Broome was talking about his off-field growth as a person, but he’s made similar strides on the field, Georgia Military College offensive coordinator Jeff Tatum said. Broome was a big, athletic tackle in high school, but even if he had the grades to play at a Division I school, the rawness of his game probably would have forced him to sit for several seasons.
By going the junior-college route, Broome has been able to learn on the fly. That may help him make a bigger initial impact in Columbia.
“Last year he was just feeling his way like a lot of freshmen do, but this year he’s taken on a leadership role and jumped right in there,” Tatum said. “He has much more understanding of the game, and he’s a lot more aggressive than he was a year ago.
“He’s big, and for an offensive lineman, he’s really athletic. He played basketball in high school. It’s kind of unusual for an offensive lineman to do that in high school. That just shows what kind of an athlete he is.”
Broome’s game is all about speed, a good trait since he’s headed to a league built on it. Though he is still rough around the edges, Tatum said college coaches would watch Broome’s film and rave about his speed and athleticism.
He plays right tackle at Georgia Military College, and that may be the position he fills in Columbia. He does his best work in the running game, but he likely has the lateral quickness to man left tackle if necessary.
“I’ve really changed as a player,” Broome said. “I’m more aggressive. I’ve learned to be more patient. Pass protection was my big challenge, and I’ve really started to get that down now. I’ve really improved.”