Time to state the obvious: Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are pretty dang good.
Those two came to Georgia as U.S. Army All-Americans and were rated among the elite high school running backs in America. Their Georgia careers have also shown them the position they play can be treacherous in the SEC. It should be expected to see them bolt to the NFL after the season to maximize their earnings in professional football.
Just like Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Those elite runners ushered in a new legacy at Georgia for the tailback spot.
It continues to feel like Noah and the ark. The Bulldogs bring their future workhorses in by the pair.
But Chubb and Michel may begat (Toneil) Carter and (D’Andre) Swift. That’s the recruiting hope this week as Swift is set to make a 1 p.m. (EST) decision tomorrow.
Carter, the nation’s No. 7 RB for 2017, committed to Georgia amid much fanfare at The Opening in Oregon. Swift is believed to be making his decision known with a movie-themed video from the talented crew at Bleacher Report.
His finalists are Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Penn State. The 247Sports Crystal Ball is trending 69 percent in Georgia’s favor. The Bulldogs have gotten 18 of the last 19 predictions dating back to late April.
He’s rated as the nation’s No. 4 RB by 247Sports and No. 37 player overall. If he chooses Georgia, he will become the second highest-rated commitment of the board for this year’s class.
DawgNation also predicted Swift to Georgia in its first Mock Signing Class for 2017. He’s rated as the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania this and is also expected to be a package deal with his four-star cousin. That’s another priority Georgia target in receiver Mark Webb, Jr.
Does it seem like all the stars are lining up for this one? It should.
That sets the table for the Swift decision, but it is what most don’t know that should excite the fans that will get to see him every Saturday.
Misread or misevaluation?
It is hard to explain why the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder was rated as an all-purpose back. Maybe it was because he was behind other stellar backs early in his prep career at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia. Most of those former teammates are on their way to stellar college careers. Swift was the young guy, but he also lined up in an offense that can get several backs past the 100-yard mark on a game-by-game basis.
Swift was even rated as the No. 1 all-purpose back for most of this year. It got a lot of folks thinking if he was another Warrick Dunn-type scatback. Could he not run between the tackles? Was Swift only elite in space?
According to his high school coach, that could not be further from the truth. Gabe Infante, a lawyer turned football coach, was befuddled by those evaluations. All-purpose back? Hardly.
“He’s a four-down and a four-yard between the tackles back,” Infante said. “I think people who evaluate high school football players suck. That’s my honest opinion. Guys who watch high school football do not watch enough tape and do not take into account that I’ve got to use a kid the way I have got to use a kid. They don’t take into account I’ve got three other Division I running backs who are older than him. I don’t know why they do that other than his versatility, but those people who evaluate high school football don’t watch enough tape and those guys are not there at my practices to see everything he can do.”
That applies in the fact Infante has seen Swift do it all. He speaks with passion about how Swift was evaluated and still does not understand where the buzz that Swift was not an every down back came from.
“D’Andre is a very special dynamic kid,” Infante said. “He is also extremely competitive. Every day is a special day with him. He finds a way to impress all of us every day. He’s a very very gifted young man. It is a real honor on our part as a program to get a chance to work with a very special young man both as an athlete and a person.”
Infante has seen Swift author the greatest high school run he’s ever seen on a run as a high school sophomore. That came in a state championship game. He’s seen him run routes that five-star receivers can’t copy. The spectacular catches. Those “truck stick” carries in which Swift plows through would-be tacklers.
“Then on the next carry he’s running away and leaving all the defenders in the dust,” Infante said. “Then there is what he can do hitting people on blocks. The kid does a lot, man. Every time he’s on the field in a clutch situation, it always seems like he makes the big play for us in the passing game or running game or he’s blocking for someone else. He always finds a way to make a big-time play for us.”
If your Swiss Army Knife is your sharpest knife, then you still call on that one when you have to slice through something thick. Like a defense in a pressure-packed state playoff game.
G-Thangs: 5 quick-hits on Swift
- He will not enroll early. Infante said that St. Joseph’s is a rigorous academic school that does not allow early graduation. He said Swift’s grades are “great” but is not allowed to discuss a student’s grades or health with the media.
- Swift takes seven academic courses per day and three years of Latin. A 92-average would be a “B” at St. Joseph’s Prep. “Academically we are a Harvard and we are a Princeton,” Infante said.
- The four-star RB is described by those who know him as a “relationship based” individual. “He has a tight circle of people he depends on,” Infante said. “I think that his decision will come down to him making a decision on where he feels the most comfortable. I think he functions well when he’s surrounded by people that he connects with.”
- Spirituality is also a big part of Swift’s life. He wants to be surrounded by people with strong faith.
- Family first is another way to describe Swift. He’s extremely tight with his family and watches over his other siblings with a great amount of personal responsibility.
What if Georgia misses on Swift?
There’s no downplaying the loss of one of the nation’s top tailbacks. Especially one that seems almost a given to head to Athens. Losing a prospect that would have been the second-highest rated prospect in the 2017 class would be a gut punch.
That’s only magnified when it affects a premium position at Georgia like the tailback spot.
Georgia should be expected to lose Chubb and Michel after (hopefully) big junior seasons. Senior Brendan Douglas also exhausts his eligibility. The Bulldogs did sign a pair of elite freshmen backs in Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield. Those two have done nothing but turn heads in camp.
But this is about depth. Elite depth. Another reload.
Don’t expect Georgia to stop recruiting Swift hard if it misses out, but that scenario would call for an all-out blitz on five-star running back Cam Akers. The one-time Alabama commitment is rated as the nation’s No. 2 RB for 2017.
He’s a phenomenal talent that likes Georgia a lot. He’s been labeled by Mississippi football historian Rick Cleveland as the best prep running back he’s seen come out of the state. That includes a lot of big names like Marcus Dupree and Walter Payton. You might have heard of those guys.
The Bulldogs are likely in the Top 5 for Akers, but he’s yet to announce that. Ohio State is currently the odds-on favorite to land Akers.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him 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.