September 23, 2017 Atlanta - Pittsburgh tight end Chris Clark (87) is stopped by Georgia Tech linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling (12) in the second half of an NCAA college football game at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Georgia Tech won 35 - 17 over the Pittsburgh. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/AJC

Player to watch this spring: Bruce Jordan-Swilling

The countdown to coach Geoff Collins’ first spring practice continues, with Georgia Tech scheduled to take the field Tuesday.

While focus in the transition has been placed on Tech’s shift in offensive scheme, the Yellow Jackets’ defense will also be changing its philosophy from the 3-4 scheme of former defensive coordinator Nate Woody to the multiple scheme of new defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker.

The defense also lost to graduation eight players who started seven games or more from the 2018 defense. Among the returnees who can profit from the changes is junior linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling, a son of Tech legend Pat Swilling.

What he’s done so far

Jordan-Swilling has played in 22 games thus far, largely in a backup and special-teams role. He has been credited with 54 tackles, two or loss. He has one interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery – all recorded in Tech’s loss at Virginia in 2017, one of two starts in his career.

In 2018, Jordan-Swilling was beaten out for one of the inside linebacker spots by David Curry, who played the vast majority of the snaps this past season.

The UVA game remains a highlight. Starting in place of the injured Brant Mitchell, Jordan-Swilling was a playmaking force, tying for the team lead with 11 tackles with the aforementioned big plays (he returned the interception for a touchdown).

Why this spring is important

As is the case with the other defensive players who have been on the team since the 2017 season, Jordan-Swilling will be playing for a third different defensive coordinator in as many years, with Thacker following Ted Roof and Woody. The series of transitions may have been more challenging for Jordan-Swilling than others on the defense, as he played running back in high school and had to learn to play defense and the linebacker position once he arrived at Tech.

He wasn’t able to win much playing time in his first two seasons, but the graduations of Mitchell and Victor Alexander (and, for that matter, Jalen Johnson, who moved to linebacker from safety in 2018) opens opportunity for him to realize the hopes that Swilling and many others have had for his career.

He figures to be in the mix with returning starter David Curry, Jaquan Henderson, Quez Jackson and Charlie Thomas, although with a new scheme there’s undoubtedly position changes ahead. For example, Justice Dingle came to Tech last year as a linebacker but was moved to defensive end in the 3-4. Jordan Domineck, Jakob Brashear and Tyler Cooksey are potential candidates, as well.

What his role could be

Thacker’s defense is multiple – the Temple defense typically started out in a 4-2-5 (four defensive linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs), but also had four- and three-linebacker looks as well. Other players may move into the group, but there’s clearly room for Jordan-Swilling (and others) to advance and begin to secure a starting spot.

Quotable

A member of Tech’s former coaching staff:

“I think he was making great strides on being a great player on that side of the football. … It just takes a little longer just to catch up on how to do things on the other side of the ball. I thought he was coming along. Really impressed with him.”

The series so far:

Tight end Tyler Davis

Quarterback Lucas Johnson

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