D’Andre Swift was a young chubby kid getting ready to play his first game at running back for the Enon Eagles, a church-league team in Philadelphia.
D’Andre’s dad, Darren Swift, was looking forward to watching his son and nephew, Georgia freshman defensive back Mark Webb Jr., play on the gridiron for the first time. But that didn’t last long as after volunteering to give some pointers during practice, he was given an assistant coaching role to work alongside D’Andre’s godfather, Radell Crabbe.
While D’Andre was the team’s running back, Darren wasn’t expecting much from his young son since he was oversized for his age.
Early in his first game, that changed as D’Andre served as a catalyst on one of his first touches. As he stood on the sideline, Darren saw his son take a handoff for about 85 yards to the end zone.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Telegraph
“Whoa,” Darren thought as he ran down the sideline in elation of his son’s accomplishment. “I’m literally looking at my son emulate moves like Barry Sanders or like when we played Madden games on PlayStation.”
Darren tried to find a balance between watching his son play and focusing on his coaching duty as an offensive coordinator, but it became increasingly difficult. D’Andre ran for five more touchdowns in an Enon victory and it was from that moment that the Swift family knew it may have a special talent in a young D’Andre.
“It was beautiful,” Darren said. “He did so many things on a field that you may have thought weren’t possible. It doesn’t matter if it were my son or who it was, it was an honor to watch him play.”
It was seen by bystanders, too.
“Hey, who’s the kid?” a referee asked as he walked next to the then Eagles’ offensive coordinator on the sideline. “Yeah, No. 21. He’s a ringer.”
“You think he’s a ringer?” Darren said. “Nah, he’s only 7.”
The referee was wondering how he knew the specifics of the young running back, only to find out he was the coach’s son.
“This kid is going to do big things, I have to make sure I’m around because I see big things in his future,” the referee said.
“You think so?” Darren asked.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids, been a lot of places and worked a lot of games,” the referee said. “He’s remarkable.”
It was those types of performances that have taken D’Andre to the point of being a Division I running back many years later, fulfilling the promises he made to his grandfather, Henry Holloway, before he passed in 2004.
Swift joined Georgia’s program as a five-star prospect and one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits in the 2017 class. Early on in his collegiate career, he has lived up to that moniker and has continued the backfield success that he saw at Enon as a young athlete and during his prep days at St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia) School.
On a number of occurrences that Swift has gotten touches, he has provided a spark. Most recently, the Bulldogs’ versatile offensive playmaker got the ball on a jet sweep and made Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill miss. Forty yards and a 15-yard facemask penalty later, Georgia found itself in position to score its final touchdown in a narrow 20-19 victory over the Fighting Irish.
It was Swift’s second big play of his young Georgia career, following a 24-yard scamper against Appalachian State. For the second consecutive week, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart praised the true freshman in his postgame news conference.
“We’ve got to find ways to get No. 7 the ball, and I’m not talking about (outside linebacker) Lorenzo Carter either,” he said.
Smart commended Swift’s blocking ability in the season opener and followed it up with appreciation of Swift’s rushing abilities just days later. Swift didn’t have to sit long after he strapped on the Georgia uniform for the first time, seeing action in the first quarter against Appalachian State and playing in team’s first seven-of-eight periods of play.
Swift has received touches on handoffs, jet sweeps and as a slot receiver — similarly to how senior Sony Michel received playing time in his first collegiate campaign. At 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, the Philadelphia product provides bulk and agility to be a multifaceted asset.
And his Bulldogs teammates agree with the notion of him seeing more action.
“We see it in practice every day,” Georgia senior running back Nick Chubb said. “He’s a play-maker. He needs the ball in his hands to make some big plays. It was a huge game-changer for us, him getting that long run. He can do a lot more.”