ATHENS — Georgia tailback D’Andre Swift closed the regular season looking very much like an early favorite for the 2019 Heisman Trophy race.
Swift rushed for 673 yards over the Bulldogs’ final six games, averaging an eye-popping 7.91 yards per carry in games against Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, UMass, Georgia Tech and Alabama.
Swift, it seems, is finally over the surgical procedures to both groins he underwent last January that limited him in fall drills and slowed him the first seven games of this season.
Former NFL MVP and Alabama All-American Shaun Alexander was among those in attendance last Saturday night who was blown away by Swift’s 138-yard, 2 touchdown rushing and receiving performance against a celebrated Crimson Tide defense.
“I liked him before, but live, there were some plays where he was making it his game and dictating what was going on,” said Alexander, who was honored as one of the SEC Legends during the SEC Championship Game weekend.
“There were some runs, and he caught a couple of passes, and it was like, you have to circle his name and really play him, because he is that guy for Georgia.”
SEC analyst and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy included Swift among his top four offensive players of the year.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 4, 2018
Georgia, however, did not have any first-team All-SEC players according to the Associated Press, and the Coaches’ first-team offense included only Bulldogs’ offensive linemen Lamont Gaillard and Andrew Thomas.
Swift finished third in the SEC in rushing (155 carries, 1,037) despite splitting carries with Elijah Holyfield (147 carries, 956 yards).
Swift’s 6.7 yards per carry bettered the averages of SEC rushing leader Trayveon Williams (6.0 yards per carry) of Texas A&M and Kentucky’s Benny Snell (5.0).
Alexander, like many others, said Georgia should have been one of the four teams included in the College Football Playoff, in part, because of Swift.
“They should be in. I know they lost, and I don’t know how they lost, but I feel like Swift’s play alone impressed,” Alexander said. “There’s always like a star power that you really want to see on teams, and the quarterback (Jake Fromm) played fine, but that guy for Georgia is No. 7.”
The FWAA announced earlier this season a new award that recognizes the best freshman football player in the country, “The Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.”
Alexander rushed for 291 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries against LSU his redshirt freshman season at Alabama, and went on to an All-American career and off-field success that embodied the spirit of college football in ideal fashion.