For four years, Georgia could count on Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to make some spectacular plays toting the football.
Now that their time in college has come to an end, the Bulldogs will look to a different crew of running backs to keep the chains moving in the ground game. Based on the production seen in 2017, rising sophomore D'Andre Swift appears ready to assume the lead role in what is still a loaded backfield at Georgia.
As a true freshman, Swift ran for 618 yards and three touchdowns. His highlight run of the season came in a 28-7 win over Auburn in the SEC Championship, which saw left tackle Isaiah Wynn and left guard Kendall Baker open a wide hole for Swift to burst through. From there, Swift made one cut inside and out-ran the rest of the Auburn defense for a 64-yard touchdown.
"It didn’t take long for it to open. I knew I was going to hit it," Swift said. "There were great blocks in front and outside, and I trusted my speed."
Swift's speed figures to be on display even more as a sophomore. While Chubb and Michel split the bulk of the carries in 2017, Swift got an average of 5.4 rushes per game in 15 games. He logged 10 carries in a blowout win over Mississippi State, but otherwise was a change-of-pace threat as Georgia's third running back. While Swift didn't get too many carries per game, he averaged an impressive 7.6 yards per rush.
Being able to learn behind Chubb and Michel benefited Swift greatly.
"Those two guys, I can’t say enough about them," Swift said. "They’re amazing role models, big brothers. They’ll do anything for me."
While Swift looks to lead the pack in the backfield, there will be four other quality running backs to share carries with. Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien have proved their worth over the past two seasons. This past season, Holyfield totaled 295 rushing yards and two touchdowns while Herrien amassed 281 rushing yards and one score.
Although Swift looks to be the one to lead Georgia's backfield in 2018, he will have plenty of help to rotate in with.
“D'Andre is a great back. He makes plenty of plays," Michel said. "But also we've got other backs, too, that make plays that don't really get talked about. We've got Elijah Holyfield, we've got Brian Herrien, we've got other guys back there that are going to make plays. But those three coming back, they're going to be amazing."
In addition, Georgia is bringing in a pair of talented freshman running backs n Zamir White and James Cook. Both backs signed their national letters-of-intent in December, with White enrolling early. White, however, is rehabbing a torn ACL suffered during the state high school playoffs in North Carolina.
Swift proved he needed to be on the field as a freshman during the preseason. And his results backed up the early-season reasoning to make him the team's third back. In those early-season games, Swift showed flashes that Georgia would be just fine at running back once it was his time to take the reins.
“I knew I could contribute then," Swift said. "(The coaches) trusted me and I knew I could make plays. It’s staying humble and hard-working, and ready to do anything in practice. I knew I’d get my shot."