published Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Swann strong: Georgia cornerback getting to the ball



Cornerback Damian Swann (5) returns an interception during the Bulldogs' game against Ole Miss on Saturday.
Cornerback Damian Swann (5) returns an interception during the Bulldogs' game against Ole Miss on Saturday.
UGA photo

ATHENS, Ga. — Center David Andrews, quarterback Aaron Murray and tailback Todd Gurley touch the football more than anybody else for the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs.

Damian Swann obviously wants in on the fun.

A week after forcing a fumble and returning an interception 15 yards in the win over Florida, the sophomore cornerback had two fumble recoveries in last Saturday's 37-10 drubbing of Ole Miss. He returned one of the fumbles 53 yards.

"I just play every play, because there is no telling what could happen," Swann said this week.

A 5-foot-11, 189-pound sophomore from Atlanta, Swann is evoking comparisons to former Bulldogs cornerbacks Asher Allen and Brandon Boykin and is flattered by both.

Allen made his share of defensive plays in three seasons with the Bulldogs before getting drafted in 2009 by Minnesota, where he also played three years. Swann's role model is Boykin, who he backed up last season and succeeded this year once Boykin was drafted by Philadelphia.

"Once I got here, I figured out the guys who would be in front of me and what role might open up this year," Swann said. "That's when I decided to get behind Boykin and learn as much as I could, because he had to leave and that job was going to be open. Boykin was the guy I studied a lot and learned almost everything from outside of what I was getting from the coaches."

Swann has done a little bit of everything this season, compiling 39 tackles, four pass deflections, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In the past two weeks alone, he has amassed two sacks, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception.

"I've always thought Damian was a pretty good player and that it was just a matter of getting him some experience," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "He plays a little bit where the action is, but he's got good awareness and good instincts, and he has a knack for understanding where the ball is going to go. I think he's done a really good job of coming in and filling in for Boykin after he left, and he's only going to get better."

The Bulldogs have opened recent games with five defensive backs -- Swann, Sanders Commings, Branden Smith, Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams. Swann is the only one who isn't a senior and has the fewest career starts, not that anyone could tell from a ball-hawking standpoint.

"He's having a great year," Commings said. "He has a knack for the football. He was an offensive player in high school, and once you touch the ball in high school, you want to touch it as much as you can."

Odds and ends

Georgia guard Chris Burnette (shoulder contusion) remained questionable Wednesday after missing a third straight practice. ... Defensive line coach Rodney Garner on if he still roots for Auburn, his alma mater, when the Tigers are not playing Georgia: "All the time. One hundred percent."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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