At least Georgia’s D'Andre Swift didn't have to wait around long Friday.
Swift was finally picked in the second round of the NFL draft. The 5-foot-8, 212-pound junior from Philadelphia was chosen by the Detroit Lions with the 35th pick overall. That is the same spot as former Bulldog Nick Chubb in 2018.
In Detroit, Swift will join another ex-Georgia player, quarterback Matt Stafford. He'll also be paired with former Auburn Tigers running back Kerryon Johnson.
“First thing that comes to my mind is Barry Sanders," Swift said on a conference call with reporters. “One of my favorite backs of all time. Everybody always talked about him. I started watching film, watching highlights, and just looking at stats and they were remarkable, unbelievable. As I got kind of older I tried to (emulate) my game to be like his any way possible. I just love watching him."
Swift had been projected as a possible mid-first round selection coming into the draft on Thursday. As it turned out, no running backs were taken in the round until the 32nd and final pick. But the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs went with LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire instead of Swift, who many analysts thought was the top back in this year's draft.
Nevertheless, Swift's short wait did nothing to tarnish Georgia's claim to the label of ‘RBU’. Swift became the fourth Bulldogs back in the last five years to be drafted in the first two rounds. Hence, ‘RBU’, or Running Back University.
Todd Gurley and Sony Michel were the first-rounders in that group. Georgia coach Kirby Smart argues that number should be three first rounders since he claims Chubb “should’ve been a first-round pick” in 2018. Chubb finished second in the NFL in rushing last year.
Swift continues a long tradition of the Bulldogs producing NFL-worthy running backs. Georgia football sent out via its Twitter feed a list of its running backs who either got the early call from the NFL or proved incredibly productive once they got there. That list goes all the way back to the 1940s, when Charley Trippi and Frank Sinkwich were back-to-back No. 1 overall picks, and includes fellow first-rounders Garrison Hearst, Rodney Hampton, Tim Worley, Knowshon Moreno and Robert Edwards.
Not included on that list is the incomparable Herschel Walker, who actually started his career as the first-ever pick in the fledgling USFL. Four years later, Walker would go on to a record-setting 12-year career in the NFL.
This past season, Swift became the fifth running back in UGA history to break the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in back-to-back seasons. He had 1,218 yards rushing and 216 receiving with a total of eight touchdowns. Those numbers would have been much higher had Swift not been injured at the end of this season. He was limited to six touches and eight total plays in his final two games because of a shoulder injury.
When Swift announced on January 3 that he was turning pro as a junior, he left UGA with 2,885 yards rushing and 666 receiving. That ranks seventh on the school’s all-time rushing list, just behind Lars Tate (3,017) and just ahead of Moreno (2,734).
More impressive is that Swift’s first season was spent as a third-team backup to Chubb and Michel as they led the Bulldogs to the national championship game. But while Swift’s contributions were limited that first year, his impact wasn't. He was Georgia's leading rusher and had an electric 77-yard touchdown run in the SEC Championship game victory over Auburn in 2017 and was named freshman All-SEC with 616 yards.