December 16, 2012

Swann ready to step up

Cornerback Damian Swann laughed that he's still getting used to the idea he'll be one of just a few veteran members of Georgia's defensive backfield in 2013.

But it's true.

With Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Shawn Williams and Branden Smith about to play their final game in the Capital One Bowl, Georgia's secondary will have a definite younger feel next fall leaving Swann - a rising junior - as the only returnee with significant actual secondary experience.

"When the time comes I know I'll have to step up and be that guy," Swann said. "That day is coming pretty soon."

He's not kidding.

Swann has started all 13 games for Georgia at field corner, which represents 11 more than safety Connor Norman's two starts at safety earlier this season and 12 more than the one by cornerback Devin Bowman.

Other than that, cornerback Sheldon Dawson along with safeties Marc Deas, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Corey Moore will be the only scholarship defensive backs with any actual game experience the Bulldogs will have when then open next season against Clemson.

Fortunately, help is on the way as the Bulldogs have commitments from seven defensive backs who are expected to sign with the team in February, including five who plan on enrolling early in January.

"I think we've got some cool guys coming in," Dawson said. "We've got some guys who will help us out a lot."

Swann agreed, adding Georgia's freshman class will have to grow up fast.

"They're talented guys and once they get settled in and get their feel for college football, I think they can help us a lot," Swann said. "They're going to have to be ready to grow up fast. College football is a lot different than high school. They're going to be playing with grown men. They've got to be ready to mature and be ready to learn."

Swann said the fact that so many will enroll early will only help speed that process along.

"We need those guys to come to come in and be quick learners, because the quicker they get used to the game speed, the practice speed and get used to college football, the better off they are going to be," Swann said. "I feel those guys can come in and do a good job for us."

Tray Matthews, Kennar Johnson, Quincy Mauger, Brendan Langley and Reggie Wilkerson are each scheduled to enroll in January.

Of the returnees at corner, Swann said he's expecting a lot from Dawson.

"He's still learning but he listens. He takes constructive criticism and he takes coaching very well," Swann said. "I think it really helped him not red-shirting, because he was able to game-plan and learn on the job, sort of what I did last year."

As for Swann, the former Grady High star said he's looking forward to improving his own numbers after collecting 47 tackles with two interceptions for the Bulldogs this fall.

There's still plenty of ways he feels he can grow.

"Right now I feel I'm stuck in the middle. In one way, I wouldn't say I'm a young guy - I've learned a lot - but I don't consider myself a veteran either because I didn't make as many plays as I wanted to this year," he said. I made a presence. I think I helped us win, but I still didn't make the plays that needed to be made when we needed them."

He intends to make that change in the two years to come.

"Guys like me look at guys to feed off of and make plays. Next year, with me being one of three or four starters that will be returning (on defense), it's going to be up to me to be one of those guys," Swann said. "I think I can be one of those guys, so hopefully when these young players get in front of you, they'll tell you they feed off of me."