Back UGA’s Swift Up Next at RBU

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UGA’s Swift Up Next at RBU

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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In a tradition-rich role in Athens, rising junior D'Andre Swift is the next-in-line.

Thanks to the success of recent Super Bowl participants Todd Gurley and Sony Michel, along with rookie of the year consideration for Nick Chubb, Georgia's title as "Running Back U" has never been more fitting. Sanford Stadium has been the starting point for that distinction. Fresh off becoming the first FBS program ever with different back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing tandems, the Bulldogs continue to run with both authority and efficiency, all of the way to the big game.

In a tradition-rich role in Athens, rising junior D'Andre Swift is the next-in-line.

Coming to Georgia as a heralded prep running back from Philadelphia, Swift has lived up to both his own recruiting hype and the standard set by his positional predecessors. Swift, in the same backfield with Chubb, Michel, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien in 2017, promptly rushed for 618 yards at over 7.6 yards per carry. Ahead of his junior season, with spring practice approaching, Swift leads a talented and deep rotation of backs in pursuit of a championship of their own.

Here is what is amazing about Swift. With just six starts to date, he already has 1,667 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns a 6.83 yard-per-carry average on pace to rank fourth in SEC history. Still without more than 17 attempts in a single game, Swift finished the year with at least 100 yards in four of his last five regular season contests, topping the century mark in consecutive Power Five outings against Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech. He also caught touchdown passes against Alabama and Texas. 

Limited by injuries some as a sophomore, Swift still finished with 1,049 rushing yards and ten touchdowns. He also added 32 receptions for 297 yards and three scores.

Swift, in fact, was the only player in the country to compile at least 1,000 yards on the ground, double digit touchdowns, six yards per carry and 30 receptions. The only other SEC player this millennium to reach those statistical milestones is Mark Ingram from 2009, then becoming Alabama's first-ever winner of the Heisman Trophy. Increase the minimum yard-per-carry threshold to 6.4 and Swift, going back two decades in the league, stands completely alone. 

More numbers help showcase just how rare of an overall playmaker Swift has been. Since 2000, exactly two SEC players have at least 1,600 career rushing yards at 6.8 yards per attempt with 45 receptions: Swift and Florida legend Percy Harvin. It's quite reasonable that, by the end of this upcoming season, Swift could be at 2,500 career rushing yards at six yards per carry with 70 receptions; the last four P5 players to do that are Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, James White and Reggie Bush.      

One of Swift's most impressive traits is that many of his best performances have come on the big stage. The signature play of Swift's freshman year was a 64-yard touchdown burst against Auburn in his first SEC Championship Game. He ran for 75 yards and a score and caught six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown versus Alabama in his second. This past fall, Swift averaged 92 yards per contest against league opponents, more than twice his margin for out of conference games. Swift also averaged more yards per game and yards per carry against ranked foes. 

For point of reference, Swift's rushing production compares pretty favorably to the three iconic Georgia running backs currently starring in the NFL in Chubb, Gurley and Michel. Through their first 244 college carries, Chubb had 1,790 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, Gurley had 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns and Michel had 1,396 yards and 12 touchdowns; Swift has 1,667 yards and 13 scores.

The last few weeks have been a spotlight showcase for former Georgia running backs. Athens to Atlanta, "RBU" has been on full display. Looking ahead to this fall, the storied standard will continue. Swift is following in the footsteps of greatness. He, too, is poised for a banner year.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports