August 7, 2012

Swann has a lot on his plate

When Damian Swann signed with Georgia out of Grady High School in 2011, he was the third-ranked cornerback prospect in the country.

At that point, the Georgia coaching staff knew he would be a big time contributor down the road, and it appears that time has come.

Swann recently received a great deal of praise from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

When asked about the Atlanta native, Grantham responded with, "Awesome, he's real good."

Don't think that Swann didn't take notice.

"It builds confidence in me to know that he has confidence in me, and that he is going to be looking to me as a guy to make plays when it is time to make plays," said Swann. "I'm just expecting to come out and produce. We might have a couple of guys out. We're not sure yet, but when my time comes, I just have to come out and produce."

The sophomore defender, who is noticeably bigger, worked hard this off-season to put on weight, and reported to camp at the exact weight he was asked to.

"I weigh right at 188 (pounds) right now," he said. "That is what I was told to report to camp at, 188. With shedding blocks and, being able to thud bigger guys up, I can tell a difference."

Swann's grown from last season to this isn't just confined to size either.

Slated as a starter for the first time in his young career, Swann can tell a big difference in his comfort and confidence levels as well.

"Absolutely. I had the opportunity to sit behind (Brandon) Boykin, and learn a lot," said Swann. "Then the transition to the spring, and that gave me another edge to learn even more. No we are in camp, and I'm just polishing up on some of the small things."

The UGA defensive staff has yet to assign specific roles for the cornerbacks at this point in camp, but the Grady product is ready for whatever comes his way.

"Yeah we really haven't got into that yet. It's just camp right now," he said. "But when the time comes, I'll play wherever."

According to Swann, "wherever" could also stretch into the ranks of special teams where he could fill multiple roles.

"I could return kicks or punts," said Swann. "I could also be a gunner on the punt team. Stuff like that."

In only his second year as a Bulldog, Swann is already considered a veteran by incoming freshman, and a few of those newcomers have already caught his eye.

"Those guys come in ready to play, and they are learning a lot," he said. "They are getting a lot thrown at them, and they are producing. Josh Harvey-Clemons is making a big impact in the defense. We have the two guys up front, Josh (Dawson) and the other kid (Jordan Jenkins), and they are producing in practice. They are going to help us down the road. Sheldon (Dawson) is doing pretty good. He's learning a lot. Coming in and being the only freshman defensive back signed, you are really by yourself. Every chance he gets, he asks questions. He's trying to learn, and he's going to be a good player."

Having a chance to go against the Georgia receivers has also given Swann a chance to see what players are ready to make a big contribution on the offensive side of the ball as well.

"(Michael) Bennett has been producing a lot. Marlon Brown is going to be big for us this year," said Swann. "TK (Tavarres King) is going to be one of the go-to guys, and I'm pretty sure when Malcolm (Mitchell) gets back over there he is going to make a big impact. Really, our whole, entire receiving core is going to be good. Wooten is going to be a key guy, so I'm pretty sure once we get everyone to the position they are supposed to be in, we are going to be ok."

In fall camp prior to his freshman season, there was some talk of maybe Swann trying his hand as a receiver.

While he was once interested in that opportunity, he is no longer concerned with playing any position other than cornerback.

"Coming out of high school playing both ways, you want to go to college and play both ways," he said. "On this level, I feel like it would be better for me to master my craft before I even think about trying to do something else. The season goes by so quick that by the time you learn something else, it is nearly gone."

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