WARMINSTER, Pa. — Philadelphia to Athens. Find a map and trace that unlikely path from the land of cheesesteaks to UGA.
That’s a mere 735 miles for the newly-built Philly pipeline to Sanford Stadium. That was the distance was covered in a package deal that has two of the Keystone State’s best committed to Georgia.
D’Andre Swift and Mark Webb Jr. both want to be Bulldogs. Georgia has not signed a player from Pennsylvania since RB Musa Smith in 2000. The Bulldogs look poised to add a pair of great ones in 2017.
Just how does that happen?
Those two are cousins. Both are rated as 4-star prospects and were regarded highly enough to attend Nike’s all-star “The Opening” elite combine back in July. (Side note: That now makes it a total of 10 UGA commitments who were in Oregon.)
The cousin thing was big. So was the role Georgia assistant Dell McGee had in Swift’s decision. McGee also quickly became a father figure to Webb in his recruitment. Swift had always wanted to play fast-paced football down south in the ACC or SEC.
Georgia’s running back tradition was also a major factor. Swift’s father, Darren, noticed the big-time prospects who went to Georgia lived up to the hype in college. He saw them excel and go on to the NFL.
Then there was #93KDay at Sanford Stadium that caught the full attention of the Swift family.
Webb wasn’t at the spring game. He heard about it second-hand from Swift. That wasn’t hard. The two are basically inseparable. Webb’s either at Swift’s house or vice versa when they are not at school, practicing or playing ball.
It all started with a spring caravan around the South to become familiar with a few potential destinations. Webb was on that trip to Georgia but didn’t even have an offer at that time. Georgia was only seriously pursuing the cousin who was rated as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back at that time.
But the cousins (remember that inseparable part) were together on that swing which stopped at UGA. When Webb made his commitment live on ESPN’s College Football Facebook page, he said it “was love at first sight.” It already felt “like home” to him. With or without an offer.
That feeling fueled the way he thinks about Georgia now.
“At the end, I truly believe I really can’t fail at that school,” Webb said.
The boys started out dreaming of playing together in college. Their careers progressed that hope to an actual plan to play at the same school. Georgia afforded them that reality, but this wasn’t burning two scholarships to land Swift. Far from it. When Swift made his commitment on Sept. 1, he became Georgia’s top-rated running back pledge for 2017. Webb now also holds that same distinction at wide receiver.
Webb is the over-the-top one. The easy communicator. Swift is more low-key. He takes his time getting to know new faces and doesn’t say a lot until he’s comfortable around someone.
Webb has always admired former Georgia great and now NFL All-Pro A.J. Green. That’s part of why he wears jersey No. 18.
Yet, he was a spectator on that first unofficial.
“I wasn’t even probably supposed to be down there,” Webb said. “I didn’t really know too much about Georgia and they probably didn’t know too much about me. I happened to go down there with D’Andre and everything was just beautiful. It was a lot of love really early on.”
But Swift had a lot to say when those two first visited Georgia.
“He doesn’t really really show much emotion about much of anything,” Webb said. “So, when we went down there that first time, I kind of had my own vibe, but after we left, I remember him being in the car and saying, ‘Yeah, this is real nice,’ regarding Georgia.”
Webb thinks he liked Georgia more at the jump.
“But I do remember D’Andre saying in the car, ‘Yeah I really do like this place,’ after that first visit,” Webb said.
Why did they eventually choose Georgia? Webb said they both believe in a “come up” with Georgia. They believe in the coaches and their plan.
“I can see what the coaches are doing and the changes they are working on,” Webb said. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”
Swift was feeling Georgia and it was relayed just how much the nation’s No. 19 receiver would, too. UGA receivers coach James Coley took a trip to Philadelphia to scout Webb during the spring.
It wasn’t long before the young man who carries the nickname “Gator” also had a Georgia offer. That’s when things got serious. Webb was soon very open about declaring the Bulldogs as his leader.
Swift was much more reserved. But he was oddly the first to commit to Georgia in an epic commitment video that looked torn from a “Rocky” movie script that was shot on the streets of Philadelphia.
That left an interesting two weeks where the only thing left was to wonder if Webb’s long-standing appreciation for Georgia had ever wavered.
It did not. The cousins plan to arrive in June and will also take all of their official visits.
That will just be part of the recruiting process they feel they have earned, but they made it clear they can be counted on to room together in Athens next summer.
“You’re going to see me rocking the Georgia gear all the time now,” Webb said.
Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.