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Swift the Next in Line at UGA

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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As the summer settles in Athens, it does so with D'Andre Swift stepping into a starring role.

The only power five RBs with 80-plus attempts to average at least 7.5 yards per carry last season were D'Andre Swift, Sony Michel and Stanford's Bryce Love

D'Andre Swift was far from your average freshman reserve. He, playing behind an iconic duo in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who combined for over 2,500 yards and 31 touchdowns a year ago, made his own mark with 618 yards and three scores. Even with limited reps, Swift would have led both Florida and South Carolina in rushing. The only power five running backs with 80-plus attempts to average at least 7.5 yards per carry last season were Swift, Michel and Stanford's Bryce Love, the Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up.

More than just a backup to Chubb and Michel, Swift was, at times, a promising look ahead.

A heralded blue-chip recruit from Philadelphia who scored 70 total touchdowns in his high school career, Swift headed south for Georgia, joining the most crowded backfield in all of college football. On a depth chart with Chubb and Michel, but also talents such as Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, Swift, even as a first year player, found his niche. He, albeit in a limited capacity, emerged as one of the nation's most dynamic backs. Swift is now positioned to become one of the game's most-productive.  

Swift's highlights, from season one, were many. Immediately, he proved ready for the big stage. Early opportunities quickly turned into real responsibilities.

With Georgia playing at Notre Dame, down and deep in their own end, Swift broke free for a key 40-yard dash. Two plays later, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the game, an advantage they would not relinquish. Swift scored his first career touchdown the very next week. He rushed for 94 yards on just six carries against Missouri. In Swift's Jacksonville debut, he caught three passes for 84 yards. Swift earned his first start in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry at Auburn. Fittingly, he scored in his introduction to Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.   

Under the bright lights of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the SEC Championship Game, it was Swift who put an exclamation point on Georgia's playoff-clinching performance with a late 64-yard touchdown burst. On that play, he, at nearly 220 pounds, showed off true track speed and quickness, all with a veteran's vision. In mere moments, Swift secured the present for the Bulldogs, while also providing a flash of things to come. Though he stopped and celebrated with Terry Godwin in the endzone, Swift, in some ways, is still in stride.

As the summer settles in Athens, it does so with Swift stepping into a starring role. A play away from the national championship a year ago, the expectations could not be higher for Georgia. Early pre-season polls have the Bulldogs slotted as a consensus top five team. Head coach Kirby Smart will turn to a largely-new leadership core, one where Swift, just a true sophomore, will be directly involved.

Given Swift's skills and Georgia's scheme, the potential is in place for a banner year. In addition to quarterback Jake Fromm, the Bulldogs return a number of names to a dominant offensive line. Georgia should, again, be one of college football's most physical teams. Swift is poised to become a national name.  

From Herschel Walker to Nick Chubb, and multiple All-Americans in between, no program has a running back tradition quite like Georgia. That powerful pedigree continues. The expectation is that Swift is now the next-in-line.

Gone is a tandem for the ages in Chubb and Michel. In Swift, the story continues.

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