Jim Chaney thinks mighty high of Georgia’s lone signee at running back.
D’Andre Swift was one of the most sought-after prospects in the country, the fourth-rated at his position and chose the Bulldogs on Sept. 1. Five months later to the day, Swift was one of the first two to fax in his national letter-of-intent — the other being his cousin and receiver commit Mark Webb Jr.
Swift was expected to be a potential contributor early until Nick Chubb and Sony Michel announced they would return for their senior seasons.
Even so, Swift still may see the field some as a freshman based on how Georgia’s offensive coordinator described him. Appearing on Georgia’s signing day webcast, Chaney gushed over Swift for his play-making ability on the football field.
“The one thing about this young man is he loves to compete,” Chaney said. “You give him an all-star game, he’s going to play in it. You bring him to a camp, he’s going to compete. He’s not going to be a five-star kid out there watching. So you absolutely love his competitive spirit. He comes from that. Mom and Dad are that way. He’s that way. So I love that. He’s walking into the door expecting to play and is probably going to try and do it.”
If Swift earns some early playing time, it would most likely be as the third option in the backfield. And even that will be tough. As the top two backs, Chubb rushed for 1,130 yards and eight touchdowns, and Michel ran for 840 yards and four touchdowns. Brian Herrien had some impressive moments during his freshman season with 363 rushing yards and three touchdowns during his first season. If not for injuries, perhaps Elijah Holyfield would have seen more carries during the season.
Swift is a powerful back at 5-foot-9 and 222 pounds but adds some versatility to the position. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and make plays in multiple facets of the game. So even with other players ahead of him at the depth chart when he arrives to Athens, there will still be an opportunity to work his way up if he’s as good as advertised.
But as it stands, Swift is fine with learning from both Chubb and Michel in his first year.
“How many kids in America would say that today? He was unfazed by it,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “He really believes that he’s going to come in and contribute and help. Certainly a lot of return yards missing off this team, we hope he’s able to help with that. We know he can flex out and play in the slot. He’s got a little bit of Sony in him, he’s got a little bit of Nick in him. Which I think is a good mixture. And the most important thing is he comes from a wonderful family and he is a fierce competitor. And I look forward to him being on our team.”
Needless to say, Chaney is more than excited to get Swift on campus to teach him the offense.
“His ball skills are unbelievable as far as a running back goes,” Chaney said. “His ability to detach (move out of the box) and do things that other can’t do at that position will be fun to utilize as we watch him grow in our offense. I can’t wait to get him in here this summer and see what he can do. (Running backs coach) Dell (McGee) did a wonderful job recruiting that young man and getting him to come down here. So we’re thrilled to death with him. He and Mark Webb both coming down from Philly. It’ll be fun to watch them play. They’ll enjoy this Georgia heat that first month.”