ATHENS – Welcome to the latest installment of the popular (because we said so) feature, counting down Georgia’s 10 most important players entering the 2012 season.
We are now down to the final four in our ranking. Or the Fascinating Four, as it were. Or Focal Four. Or Foremost Four. (We now own a thesaurus ap.)
Our No. 4 M.I.P. is a man who, fortuitously, was born on December … wait for it … 4th.
WHY HE'S VITAL: Because Georgia’s secondary has been ravaged by suspension, but Swann was due to play a lot anyway. As a freshman, he played nickel and dime corner, making one start, and was set to compete with Branden Smith to start, in the wake of Brandon Boykin’s graduation. But then the other starting corner, Sanders Commings, was issued a two-game suspension, and Smith was arrested for marijuana. Swann starting in the opener against Buffalo is now a foregone conclusion, and he could start against Missouri – which has the nation’s top receiver recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham. Even when Commings returns, Swann is a bit bigger than Smith, although less experienced, so he’s going to be playing this year, whether it’s as a starter or a nickel back. At a minimum, his play will loom large in that Missouri game, which for all we know could dictate whether Georgia wins the SEC East. And ultimately, if Swann plays well then it lessens the need for Malcolm Mitchell to play cornerback – thus allowing the offense to get back perhaps its best weapon. That may be Swann’s biggest importance to his team this season.
QUOTABLE: “Oh, I’m looking forward to it. That’s how you make a name for yourself, going against top guys that everybody’s looking forward to doing something big. And once you and show that you can play, hey your job is done.” – Swann, on going up against Green-Beckham.
BEST CASE: Swann is up to the task, living up to the four-star status he had as a recruit out of Atlanta’s Grady High School. (He was also an Army All-American.) Swann takes care of the cornerback duties, allowing Mitchell to move back to offense, where he stars again. Swann teams with Commings and Smith, and the loss of Boykin is not felt. For good measure, Swann returns some punts and kicks, and sees a snap or two on offense.
WORST CASE: Missouri attacks Swann with impunity on Sept. 8, and he’s beat a few too many times. Georgia falls to Missouri, and that proves the back-breaker for the Bulldogs’ division title hopes.
FINAL WORD: Swann is unproven at the college level, but that’s only because Georgia didn’t need him last year. Now it does.