NEW ORLEANS — Things would have been a lot less complicated and controversial had Georgia tailback D’Andre Swift chosen to skip the Sugar Bowl.
But Swift explained on Sunday he’s not looking for convenience or self-preservation, so much as he wants one more opportunity to play with his teammates.
“I want to go out there being able to put my best foot forward, which I’m trying to do, but I definitely have to be smart about the decision (and) I don’t want to make it worse,” Swift said at the Bulldogs Sugar Bowl press conference.
“It’s football, you don’t know how many opportunities you’ll have to play the game of football, and I love the game of football, so if Im able to go, I’m going to go.”
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) will be short-handed when they face No. 7 Baylor (11-2).
Starting offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, both healthy, made the decision two weeks ago to quit the team early to begin preparations for the NFL.
So why didn’t Swift?
“I love being around my guys, and I love being around my coaches.” Swift said. “I would regret not trying to play and not being around my guys.
“What would I be doing if I wasn’t here? Just sitting back and getting treatment, watching the team play on TV. I’d rather be here.”
Senior All-American safety J.R. Reed, like Swift voted a permanent captain, opted not to travel to the Sugar Bowl after suffering what he referred to as a “minor” foot injury in practice last week.
Swift is aware there are conspiracy theories that he may be holding back for fear of injury, or that he’s only sticking around to help Kirby Smart mask the available personnel for the Sugar Bowl.
But he was front and center on Sunday, prepared to answer such questions and assertions.
“I know how bad my shoulder was hurting, everybody else doesn’t know,” said Swift, who was limited to two carries in the 37-10 loss to LSU. “They just see you out there and expect you to be able to do everything normal, and everything wasn’t normal, so I just tried to do what I could.”
Smart said Swift will play if it’s “100 percent.”
Swift said he’ll test his shoulder in practice, but it remains a day-to-day situation.
“If I had any wishes,” Swift said, “I wish it (shoulder injury) would have been gone a week ago, or two weeks ago.”
Georgia RB D’Andre Swift