Bruce Jordan-Swilling fights for spot in Tech’s running back rotation

Georgia Tech running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling makes a touchdown catch in the spring game. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Georgia Tech running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling makes a touchdown catch in the spring game. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

With one final year of eligibility remaining, Bruce Jordan-Swilling faces a tough climb up the Georgia Tech running back depth chart. In the same position group, there’s no less than four Yellow Jackets backs who have proven their productivity – Jahmyr Gibbs, Jordan Mason, Jamious Griffin and Dontae Smith.

But he’s willing to give it a shot. In the Yellow Jackets’ spring game last Friday, Jordan-Swilling received the bulk of the chances and showed what he could do.

“I think it helped his confidence,” Jordan-Swilling’s father, Tech great Pat Swilling, told the AJC. “I’ll be honest with you, he had a great spring practice. (Running-backs coach Tashard Choice) called us raving about the things he was doing. I’m excited for him, I really am.”

Jordan-Swilling’s time at Tech has been a challenge. After starring as a running back at Brother Martin High in New Orleans and earning four-star status, Jordan-Swilling chose Tech over offers from Alabama, USC and Georgia, among others. He began his Jackets career at linebacker and played a backup role for his first three seasons. His third season was cut short by a season-ending foot injury.

He switched to running back in the spring of 2020, but his development time was limited as the quarantine ended spring practice early.

“It just seemed like the timing hasn’t been right for him,” Swilling said.

Regardless, Jordan-Swilling distinguished himself on special teams last season, particularly on the kickoff unit. Most memorably, Jordan-Swilling changed the Louisville game with a forced fumble and recovery, a play that gave the Jackets the ball at the Cardinals’ 27-yard line and set up a touchdown.

Near the end of last season, with an extra year of eligibility available due to COVID, Swilling said that it was possible that Bruce might leave Tech as a grad transfer for a better shot at playing time, adding that the input of coach Geoff Collins on that matter would weigh heavily in the decision. This week, Swilling said at that time he wasn’t sure about how coaches “felt about Bruce, and whether they wanted to keep him on their football team.” Those concerns have been answered.

“Pleasantly surprised the way coach Collins and those guys embraced him,” Swilling said. “To be honest with you, I was very surprised. So, obviously, they saw something.”

Jordan-Swilling’s play in the spring game – 14 carries for 57 yards along with three catches for 30 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown catch out of the backfield – was a reminder of what he can do with the ball. While the scrimmage was played with no tackling to the ground, Jordan-Swilling competed with a physical style, bringing his size (6-foot-1 and 225 pounds) and speed to bear.

“I just tell Bruce, just wait your time and see if (an opportunity) presents itself,” Swilling said. “More importantly, go play (hard) on special teams.”

Swilling has taken encouragement from Choice’s commitment to playing the best players.

“If that’s the honest truth, if that’s the way that’s handled, that’s a great thing,” Swilling said. “Let the cream rise to the top. And obviously Bruce showed that he can make some plays.”

Swilling said that Bruce and brother Tre, on track to start for a fourth consecutive season at cornerback, will spend May in south Florida to train, doing strength-and-conditioning and on-field work. Bruce will graduate with a business degree on May 8.

“It’s going to be the biggest Mother’s Day gift that (wife) Robin could ever get,” Swilling said.

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