How Nick Chubb and Sony Michel staying helped D’Andre Swift and what it could mean for Kendall Milton
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Why Kendall Milton could follow a similar path as Georgia football star D’Andre Swift
When you’re as talented a player as D’Andre Swift was in high school, it’s easy to expect to come in and play right away at whatever school you go to. Swift was the No. 33 overall prospect in the country for the 2017 class and a 5-star recruit.
When he famously committed to Georgia, he thought at the time that he would be expected to come in and replace Nick Chubb and Sony Michel following the 2016 season. The two talented running backs were draft eligible and most running backs need to get to the NFL as soon as possible so they can begin working on that second contract.
However, Chubb and Michel both made the decision to bypass the 2017 NFL Draft and return to Georgia for another season. This bumped Swift down the depth chart and pushed him to Georgia’s No. 3 running back. Some recruits have decided to play elsewhere because of the competition in front of them.
But not Swift. In an interview with Jordan Reid of thedraftnetwork.com, the now junior Georgia running back called Chubb and Michel’s decisions to return to Georgia for the 2017 season, “the best thing that happened to me.”
“(Just) learning and just doing stuff with them on and off the field was great because I could go to them and count on them before I would even go to my coaches,” Swift said. “I had a great relationship with them.”
Like Swift, many Georgia fans were thrilled with Chubb and Michel’s decision to play for Georgia in 2017, as the two led the Bulldogs to an appearance in the national championship game. Chubb and Michel then both went on to be top 35 picks and have stellar rookie seasons.
Back in 2017, Swift still saw plenty of action, as he finished with 618 rushing yards. He had a big run against Notre Dame and an even bigger run against Auburn to put the 2017 SEC Championship game on ice.
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— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 3, 2017
In 2018, Swift took on a bigger workload and managed to up his numbers. He finished the season with 1,049 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 163 carries. Swift never carried the ball more than 17 times in a game all season, and because of that load management, he had some of his best games in the final month of the season. He ran for a career-best 186 yards against Auburn last November, as he was fully healthy during the stretch run.
Now heading into his junior season, Swift made it known this spring he’s ready for a bigger workload, despite concerns about whether or not his body can hold up for a full season.
“I should contribute as much as he (Kirby Smart) wants me to, so I’m playing out there to my best ability and giving 100 percent every practice,” Swift said. “I don’t let off. I shouldn’t be taken out of practice or anything like that. I don’t think anybody should, so that’s the standard here at Georgia, so I play to that standard.”
Georgia will have to replace fellow 1,000-yard rusher Elijah Holyfield this upcoming season. Swift will undoubtedly play a bigger part in the offense this year. Factoring in his abilities as a pass catcher, Swift should have an excellent chance to fully display his game for NFL scouts and coaches.
It’s been no secret that this will likely be Swift’s final season in Athens. He only has to look at former Georgia running back Todd Gurley — who suffered multiple injuries in college and has already begun to feel the effects of the wear and tear of the league this past season — as to why he should try to jumpstart his NFL career.
Georgia running back target Kendall Milton has even said it’s known that is the case. Should the 5-star prospect pick Georgia —as Swift did in the summer of 2016 — he’ll be expected to come in and carry the load right away.
Milton — like pretty much every 5-star running back — wants to come in and be the guy. Swift did at one point himself. And Milton very may well take on a big load in 2020, or at least share it with the likes of Zamir White, James Cook and Kenny McIntosh.
But say, like Chubb and Michel before him, Swift decides to spend a fourth season in Athens. Would it really hurt the Georgia team or Milton’s long-term potential? Almost certainly not. The Georgia offense won’t be worse in 2020 if it has Swift and Milton on it. And it would likely keep carries off Milton and thus make him more attractive come the day it is his turn to consider the NFL draft.
If this Swift’s final season in Athens, he’ll still have had a great Georgia career and someone every fan should root for at the next level. But were he to come back for one last ride and potentially help Milton learn the ropes as a freshman, that would be something that should excite Georgia fans as well.
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