PHILADELPHIA — Beyond. Blessed.
There are many arcs to choose from when shaping a view into the life of a player DawgNation hopes will be the next great at “Tailback U.” But the launch point for that D’Andre Swift narrative only calls for those two words.
Chance the Rapper won a Grammy or three for making his feelings known about blessings upon blessings. That’s how Swift feels.
St. Joseph’s Prep RB D’Andre Swift rates as the nation’s No. 4 RB. His father Darren (right) liked how UGA recruited his son as a man. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
“I just try to be a really good person on and off the field,” Swift said. “Be a nice person to talk to. Show good character. Be humble. That’s how I show I’m thankful.”
The 5-foot-9 218-pound prospect rated as the nation’s No. 4 RB for 2017. Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee lured the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania to Athens. That’s quite a feat.
But this Next Generation feature runs counter to all that football. We’ll save how he feels about a mammoth O-line and his future in the offense for another read.
There are heavy doses of faith, family, love and loyalty up ahead. Those are the bread-and-butter plays which move the chains of his life.
D’Andre Swift plays for “Pop Pop”
Do you know a teenager? How unusual would it be to learn that a major influence on their life is a person that passed away 12 years ago?
Swift plays football to honor his beloved grandfather.
His mother, Ayanna, describes the true bond her son has with her father. He still does. That’s why he wears a chain that used to go around Henry Holloway’s neck.
Swift even honors him by writing “Pop Pop” around the tape he puts on his wrists and cleats. That’s as much a part of his uniform as the No. 7 he will still wear at Georgia.
4-star RB D’Andre Swift inscribed the name “Pop Pop” on his uniform in tribute to his late grandfather. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
“That was my son’s best friend,” Ayanna Swift said. “My father always did want to have more than one kid. I was his only child so when I had a son that was his son. He immediately claimed him.”
Those two would often duel in psychology. The Philadelphia Eagles would be playing on TV, but D’Andre would want to flip over to wrestling.
Pop Pop would say “Alright ‘Dre” because that was his world. The grandson always beat the Eagles.
“He loved that he would give in and do anything and everything for him,” Ayanna Swift said about her father’s love for her son.
Swift was named a U.S. Army All-American this year. His stat sheet is pure gold. What would “Pop Pop” say if he could see him now?
“That would probably be the first time my father would have ever been speechless,” she said. “My father was a tremendous tremendous extrovert but that would be the one and only time he would not be able to say anything. He’d watch all the things his grandson is able to do on the field in awe.”
D’Andre Swift and his family share a special bond. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
That connection to his grandfather is unusual. Especially with the passage of time.
“He passed away before D’Andre played his first game,” his father Darren Swift said. “He passed when D’Andre was six. So he never saw him play. But they did everything together. D’Andre would still watch every Eagles game with him. He’d sit in his grandfather’s lap. Their whole conversation would be about that game. They were inseparable.”
But the son also follows the father. Darren Swift is also aware of his many blessings.
“Henry Holloway was a great great man,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better father-in-law and a better mother-in-law. Period. His grandparents reflect everything that should be the good things and the great things you find in all people.”
Those memories serve both as a foundation and fuel. Swift missed a big chunk of his senior year with lingering injuries. But he closed with a fury of 724 yards in his final three state playoff games.
Swift finished with 1,543 yards on 138 carries. He scored 25 touchdowns in 14 games. That’s 11.2 yards per attempt.
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