Clemson transfers Kobe Pace, Malcolm Greene aim to help Tony Elliott build at Virginia

Aug 7, 2023
CHARLOTTESVILLE — He’s seen and worked with Tony Elliott in various capacities.
The second-year Virginia coach was transfer running back Kobe Pace’s lead recruiter at Clemson, then his position coach and the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, too. And after a season apart, Pace departed the perennial power this past winter to reunite with Elliott in Charlottesville.
“I don’t think he’ll ever change,” Pace said Wednesday after the team’s first preseason practice about whether or not Elliott has shown any differences as the man in charge.
“That’s one thing I like about him,” Pace, who was with UVa during spring drills, noted. “I know he’ll never change. I know he’ll never switch up, and I feel like that’s my Day 1 guy ever since I stepped foot on a college campus.”
He trusts Elliott, and so does fellow Clemson import and cornerback Malcolm Greene, providing the Hoos two newcomers with excellent understanding of exactly what their coach demands as he tries to develop UVa into a winner and guide the Cavaliers toward an improvement from the 3-7 record they had last fall in his first season at the helm.
“It does help us as coaches, me in particular,” Elliott said, “because they can see the vision and that’s the key with those guys.”
Said Pace: “I wanted to come here to help this team out, help this team grow.”
The move Pace and Greene made, though, was from a regular in the College Football Playoff and a national title contender to a squad picked to finish last in the ACC.
“A [national championship] is good,” Pace said. “But that’s not always the goal, because we have steps and steps are needed to get there. The natty isn’t the main goal. The main goal is to win the opener and then whatever comes next after that.”
Said Greene: “It’s definitely a weird adjustment, but I feel like Coach Elliott does a great job of making sure the staff and the players understand that, ‘The standard is best,’ and not the best, but your best and aiming to do your best in your role.”
That’s how Pace and Greene can assist the Cavaliers, they said, considering Elliott and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney asked the same when they were with the Tigers.
The approach hasn’t changed for Pace and Greene just because they’re now wearing navy and orange instead of purple and orange.
“It’s just coming out here and showing them how to compete and to compete every day,” Pace said. “It only goes as far as the players, but as long as we go out and compete with each other and do what we’ve got to do, then we’ll go as far as we can take it.”
Greene added: “You should try to squeeze the best out of yourself at all times. So, I’m making sure the guys next to me are doing so also, because I’m always going to hold myself to that standard.”
In addition to the credibility Pace and Greene have because of where they played previously, it doesn’t hurt they’re likely ticketed for prominent responsibility this fall.
In 2021, Elliott’s last season as Clemson’s OC, Pace experienced a breakout campaign and rushed 641 yards and six touchdowns on 104 carries and caught 12 passes for 131 yards. He said he’s looking to find similar success again this fall and wants to fit well into a running back group that includes veterans Mike Hollins and Perris Jones, too. Greene could start at one of the vacant cornerback spots.
“They’re good players,” Clemson offensive lineman Will Putnam said last week at ACC Kickoff in Charlotte.
“Kobe Pace is a power back, and a big, strong dude,” Putnam said. “I’m pretty sure he power-cleaned like 405 pounds when he was a freshman, so he’s a big, thick back and he’s a great guy, which is what you want. Same thing with Malcolm Greene. He’s very versatile. He can play in or out, and he’s a speed guy, so they’re getting some good players, but I think it’s great they’re with Coach Elliott.”
Tigers All-American defensive tackle Tyler Davis agreed with Putnam.
“They’re going to help [Elliott] establish some of the roots they learned at Clemson and that program is going to go up,” Davis said.
Elliott said the Cavaliers are already benefiting from Pace and Greene being in the program.
“When you’re trying to build and establish that winning culture, you’ve got to work to that,” Elliott said. “So, for me, I’ve talked about the standard and I can say what the standard is, but the players have to visualize that experience and are working towards that. But when you have guys who come from a situation where they kind have had a standard, they can say things in ways that maybe I can’t. They can talk to each other in ways that maybe I can’t talk to ‘em, so it does help.”
Elliott said he’s, “really excited about Malcolm and Kobe.”

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