ATHENS - Earlier this year, from the spring through the preseason, Damian Swann was one of the most visible members of the Georgia defense, serving as a veteran spokesman for the secondary. But when he met the media on Wednesday night it was for the first time in over a month.
He was frank on why.
"It was nothing against you guys," Swann said to a couple reporters. "It's just that I haven't been playing the way I was expecting to play. So it was really nothing for me to talk about."
Swann's disappointing first half of the season was a big reason Georgia's young defense struggled. Expected to be a veteran pillar of a freshman-heavy secondary, Swann struggled, getting beat for plenty of big plays. The Bulldogs needed Swann to be a dependable No. 1 cornerback, and instead he was a part of the problem.
But recently Swann's play has improved, along with the rest of the defense.
"The first half of the season, I wasn't playing the way I was capable of. I knew that, and I think everybody knew that," Swann said. "I think with Florida being my better game, having a decent game against Vandy, I think that's gotten me in the right direction, to get back to where I need to be."
So what was the problem early on?
"I really couldn't put a finger on it, because if I could it wouldn't have lasted that long," said Swann, who had four interceptions last year, but has none this year.
He started playing better, he said, when he fully concentrated on his own play. That's an indication that he was worried about the youth around him.
Swann wanted to be a leader this year. He had to be whether he wanted to or not, being a two-year starter and a junior. The only other upperclassmen with starting experience was senior safety Connor Norman, but he's mainly a special teamer now.
Entering the year, expectations were high enough for Swann that he was a candidate to turn pro. He still isn't discounting that possibility, but acknowledges he'd have to play better for his stock to improve.
"Who knows. We've still got four, five games left. You know, who knows," Swann said. "But that's not something I'm focusing on. First off I want to get bowl-eligible. We're not even bowl-eligible yet. And hopefully we can win out and get some help to where we can get to Atlanta.
"Just to have the decision, to be able to make that decision, (after) the third year, that's a good thing. Because even if you're not able to make the step you want to make, you've still got a whole season to come back to prove yourself. So I think it's gonna work out for the best, and I'm here."