ATHENS — The reason D’Andre Swift is a Georgia Bulldog and not a Clemson Tiger is coming to Sanford Stadium this season, and his name is Cordarrian Richardson.
Call it a case of running back roulette.
“I was actually supposed to go to Clemson,” said Swift, recently named a second-team preseason All-American by The Sporting News. “I went up there and loved the coaches, but I was told that they were only taking one running back in my class.
“I kind of wanted to wait out my commitment. Someone else actually committed before I did, and they didn’t have a spot for me at the time.”
The Tigers ended up with Travis Etienne in the 2017 signing class — the 2018 ACC Player of the Year, and a first-team preseason All-American in 2019 — but that’s not who bumped Swift over to Georgia.
No, Richardson is that player, having originally committed to Clemson on March 6, 2016.
It was a pledge Richardson stuck with until Dec. 23, 2016 — well after Swift had chosen Coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs.
“We came down here a couple times and I liked the visit,” Swift said, explaining why he chose to commit to Georgia on Sept. 1, 2016.
— SWIFT7️⃣ (@DAndreSwift) September 1, 2016
“With what the coaches were telling me, I could tell that it was real family oriented and with the players too,” Swift said.
“So, I made the decision based off of Nick (Chubb) and Sony (Michel). They were supposed to go to the league after their third year. That’s really why I committed. I knew I’d have a chance to come in and have a role as a freshman.”
Chubb and Michel obviously stayed for their senior seasons (2017), but Swift made it clear that worked out all right for him, too.
“I learned how to carry myself as a pro without even being in the league,” Swift said. “As one of the leaders on this team, people look up to me now, and I have to make sure that I’m setting the example by doing the right thing, which is what I learned from those two when I was a young player. I gotta lead by example.”
Swift had a productive 2017 season for the Bulldogs, accounting for 771 total yards (618 rushing) on a UGA team that won the SEC Championship Game en route to a Rose Bowl victory and runner-up finish in the CFP.
Richardson, meanwhile, had finished his recruitment in bizarre fashion, committing to Maryland via weather balloon on National Signing Day, only to sign with UCF the next day.
The Knights, interestingly enough, were not among the top four schools he listed on signing day (Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss).
Etienne, meanwhile, committed to Clemson on Jan. 26, 2017. Swinney won a knock-down, drag-out recruiting battle against LSU for Etienne, who is from Jennings La.
It’s worth noting Etienne was originally committed to Texas A&M, and had he not de-committed, Richardson likely would not have transferred there.
While Swift and Etienne enjoyed successful freshman campaigns, Richardson ran for only 161 yards as a true freshman on UCF’s undefeated 2017 team.
Richardson declared his desire to transfer to Texas A&M after the season, and sat out last season.
The 6-foot, 246-pound Richardson is expected to be ready to roll into this season. He’s currently projected to be the No. 2 running back behind Jashaun Corbin.
Here’s a timeline of the tangled events that led to Swift and Richardson being scheduled to be on opposite sidelines on Nov. 23 when the Aggies come to Sanford Stadium, and Etienne ending up at Clemson:
March 6, 2016 — Richardson commits to Clemson
June 11, 2016 — Etienne commits to Texas A&M
August 1, 2016 — Etienne de-commits from Texas A&M
Sept. 1, 2016 — Swift commits to Georgia
Dec. 23, 2016 — Richardson de-commits from Clemson
Jan. 26, 2017 — Etienne commits to Clemson
Feb. 1, 2017 — Etienne signs with Clemson
Feb. 1, 2017 — Swift signs with Georgia
Feb. 1, 2017 — Richardson commits to Maryland
Feb. 2, 2017 — Richardson signs with UCF