Georgia RB D’Andre Swift to wait until after bowl to announce NFL decision

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Here’s a by the numbers look at Georgia junior running back D’Andre Swift.

Easy come, easy go.

That has to be the mentality these days in the increasingly fluid business that is college football.

The No. 5-ranked Georgia Bulldogs learned Tuesday that they would be without the services of two of their star juniors in for their Jan. 1 matchup against No. 7 Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. Starting left tackle Andrew Thomas and right tackle Isaiah Wilson announced via personal social-media accounts that they were declaring for the NFL Draft and forgoing their college eligibility immediately.

Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound junior, deciding to leave comes as no surprise. A consensus All-American and All-SEC player this past season, he has long projected as a potential top-five draft choice in the 2020 NFL Draft, which will be held in late April.

Wilson is a somewhat of a surprise since he is a sophomore by eligibility and still has two more seasons of eligibility. However, because he was redshirted as a freshman and therefore has been out of high school three years, he is eligible to be drafted. And at 6-7, 340 pounds with 25 starts under his belt, it’s understandable why he might be optimistic about his potential.

The underclassman exodus may or may not be over for the Bulldogs. After an afternoon media report via Twitter that running back D’Andre Swift also was turning pro, Swift sent out a tweet via his account saying he would not make a decision until “after the bowl game.” That was followed by three exclamation points.

Whether that means Swift will play in the Sugar Bowl is another question. In recent years, draft-eligible players with early-round potential have been choosing not to participate in bowl games rather than risk injury or devaluation by playing an otherwise meaningless game. Last year, Georgia senior Deandre Baker chose not to play in the Bulldogs’ Sugar Bowl matchup against Texas. That decision came even after the star cornerback announced on national television during his acceptance of the Jim Thorpe Award that he intended to play. Baker, who still traveled with the Bulldogs to New Orleans, eventually became a first-round draft pick of the New York Giants.

Meanwhile, current senior safety J.R. Reed, an All-American and Thorpe Award finalist, said last week he plans to play in the Sugar Bowl.

Quarterback Jake Fromm and starting left guard Solomon Kindley, both juniors, will have similar decisions to make. Same for coveted senior prospects such as defensive tackle Tyler Clark.

The timing of Tuesday’s announcements by Thomas and Wilson probably is not coincidental. Wednesday is the first day of the early signing period in college football, and Georgia coach Kirby Smart may have encouraged it so that potential signees are clear about projected depth chart for next season.

With Thomas and Wilson definitely out for the Sugar Bowl, the Bulldogs likely will start sophomore Cade Mays at left tackle and either junior Ben Cleveland or sophomore Jamaree Salyer at right tackle.

If Swift chooses not to play, senior Brian Herrien would be the expected starter, with increased roles being played by freshmen Zamir White.