The newness of his surroundings is starting to wear off a little bit for Georgia junior cornerback Damian Swann.
Swann has competed in a secondary the past two seasons loaded with veterans such as Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams. Now the 5-foot-11, 189-pounder from Atlanta is alone in terms of quality experience, and he is dealing with youth and the miscues that come with it.
"It's weird being the only one back there with a significant amount of playing time," Swann said by phone following Tuesday's second of 15 spring workouts. "We had a lot of young-guy mistakes on Saturday, but today we had a lot better practice."
Though the Bulldogs are rebuilding their secondary, Swann provides a solid foundation. A starter in all 14 games last season, he flourished late with a sack and two fumble recoveries against Ole Miss, seven tackles in the Southeastern Conference championship game against Alabama and six tackles and two interceptions against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
Swann had 53 tackles and a team-leading four interceptions last season.
"I just thought he was tremendous," defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "When you look at the way he played and progressed, I expect him to be a leader for us back there."
Sophomore Sheldon Dawson has been working as the other first-team cornerback, according to Swann, while taking turns at the safety spots have been juniors Corey Moore and Connor Norman, sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons and early enrollees Tray Matthews and Quincy Mauger.
"The 15 days for this group are really critical," Grantham said, "because we need to find out what they know and what they can do and how they can help us. We've still got some more talented guys coming once the summer gets here."
Said Swann: "These younger guys here this spring will give us an ample amount of time to get everything right. If you look at last year, we didn't play with the same lineup every game. I think we'll be fine."
The Bulldogs worked out for two hours Tuesday and will practice again Thursday before taking off for spring break. Thursday will be their first day in pads.
Head coach Mark Richt already has labeled Swann a defensive leader, which has not required much of an adjustment.
"After my freshman year in high school, we lost a lot of seniors, so by my sophomore year I was leading the team," Swann said. "That's kind of the page I've been put on throughout my whole life, so I think I'm prepared for it."
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 ...