You see I been waiting
Waiting on that time
Feel me if you been waiting on yours
That moment, is close
ATHENS — Those are the opening lyrics to the DJ Drama song My Moment. Fittingly, that tune provides the background music for one of D’Andre Swift’s YouTube highlight videos from the 2017 season.
Here are some reasons that’s cool: One, Swift was a backup tailback for the Georgia Bulldogs last season; that a highlight reel could be produced — much less one that is more than seven minutes long — from a third-string tailback, is saying something about that back as well as the Bulldogs’ use of backs. And, two, Drama — aka, Tyree Cinque Simmons — is a hip-hop artist from Swift’s hometown of Philadelphia and, like Swift, does much of his work in the Dirty South.
The chorus of Drama’s popular song repeats “just waiting on my moment,” over and over again. And that’s what Swift has been doing, waiting on his moment.
With the start of spring practice just three weeks away, Swift won’t be waiting for his moment much longer. Neither will we. Swift’s time is now. And based on what we saw in limited in supply last season, this ought to be a good time.
Swift played behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel last season. You might have heard that those two seniors, who will compete in the NFL combine later this week, were pretty good. They combined for 2,572 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns during the Bulldogs’ run to the National Championship Game, and that’s not including their receiving work. In all, they had 392 touches. That’s doesn’t leave a lot of leftovers for anybody else.
But say this for Swift: He knows what do with leftovers. He had just 98 touches in 2017, but he averaged 7.9 yards every time he touched the ball and finished with 4 touchdowns. You may remember his 64-yarder against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.
It’s easy enough to discount that level of production. One could say the bulk of it came late in games after Georgia’s offense had softened up opponents. But that’s not necessarily the case. As the year progressed, Swift developed a role within the offense. Namely, he was the backfield’s primary receiver. He led the backs with 17 receptions and scored 1 touchdown via that route. I would imagine the Bulldogs offensive brain trust is intrigued about the schematic possibilities Swift presents.
And while he was third in Georgia’s backfield rotation, the Bulldogs didn’t really mess with that. Swift’s turn came up several times at critical moments in big games, and he went on in anyway. He had 10 touches for 105 yards in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn and a total of 20 touches in the postseason.
That’s what makes Swift as Georgia’s featured back so intriguing. After all, the theory is that there is always room for improvement, especially going from the freshman to sophomore seasons. Barring injury or some other setback, Swift should get better.
Here’s another forgotten factor about Swift: He’s smart. He hails from St. Joseph’s Prep in Philly, an academically proud, private school that has produced several of that city’s mayors. Swift took Latin there. Latin! By all accounts, this is a young man who won’t get overwhelmed by the playbook or the school books.
That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to about this spring, getting an audience with Swift and getting to know him a little better. DawgNation’s Seth Emerson talked to him briefly after the SEC Championship Game last December, but we’ve had little time with him besides.
“I didn’t know what my role was going to be,” Swift said of his prospects last season. “I was just going to contribute any way they asked me to. But I knew [it] was going to be a learning experience for me. I’m just happy that they trusted me and put me out there to make plays.”
If you scour the many freshman All-America lists from the 2017 season, you won’t find Swift on any of them. The names found there were of players who were their team’s featured back, such as Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (1,977 yards rushing), Boston College’s AJ Dillon (1,589) and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (1,403). But those players all had 200 or more total touches.
Swift will be in position to have many more opportunities this season. But, like his predecessors, he won’t have to go it alone. He’ll share the load with juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien, for starters. And Georgia will see what signees James Cook and Zamir White can do if and when they’re ready.
But, by and large, Georgia’s 2018 running game will be determined by what it gets out of Swift. It’s his time. It’s his moment.
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