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Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Getting to know Eric Swinney

By Derek Tyson

Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

ROSWELL, Ga. — Running back Eric Swinney was one of 13 ESPN Junior 300 prospects to attend the Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday. Of those 13, 12 are from Georgia, which regularly churns out elite college football players. For some reason, however, the state doesn’t seem to get the recognition as a top talent-producing state.

Eric Swinney
ESPN Junior 300 Eric Swinney has a top five of Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Ole Miss and Auburn.
Swinney, who is the No. 122-ranked player in the country, said he and other Georgia players have taken notice and are out to prove that Georgia belongs on that short list of elite states like Florida, Texas and California.

"... Me and my boys talk about it all the time,” Swinney said. "We feel like we are the best in the country. Georgia talent is amazing, we feel like we can compete with anybody in the country. We will prove it. Probably show them too in Oregon [at The Opening] with all our guys.”

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound back, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior, is one of the most sought-after running backs in the country, and the talented athlete is starting to narrow down his recruitment.

“My top five is Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Auburn, in no particular order,” Swinney said. "They are just wonderful schools that are trying to build their programs and they want me to be a part of it. They started recruiting me early and they have been recruiting me the hardest.”

Swinney, who has already visited Tennessee four times, is planning to visit Ole Miss this spring and might also take trips to Tennessee (again) and FSU. Though Swinney claims to be wide open, the home state Bulldogs and the Volunteers might have an advantage.

“I like the tradition at Tennessee,” he said. "Knoxville is a beautiful place up there. Coach [Robert] Gillespie is up there, they have a great coaching staff. They had a great recruiting class last year and they are trying to build a championship team. With Georgia, Athens is amazing. I grew up as a Bulldogs fans so my first time in Athens was amazing. It was pretty nice.”

Swinney said he would like to make a commitment before his senior season and several key factors will play a role in his decision.

“I want to go somewhere I can play early,” he said. "Somewhere I can get my education first and somewhere I can see myself growing as a man.”

About his recruitment: Swinney is a versatile running back who would fit nicely in to spread offenses such as Tennessee, Auburn or Ole Miss. FSU is coming off a national championship so it has momentum. Swinney, however, has not yet been to Tallahassee, Fla., and if he wants to make a decision before his senior year it might not give the Seminoles enough time to win him over. The visits he takes over the spring could go a long way in determining where he will end up.

Scouting report: Swinney is an impressive running back who certainly shows flashes of being an upper-level prospect with featured back potential at the next level. He can move the chains with in-line vision and deceptive strength or bounce outside and turn the corner with very good speed and acceleration. A tad undersized, particularly in the lower body, but really has a well-rounded skill-set. -- Tom Luginbill

Handicapping the race: It appears Tennessee and Georgia have the advantage. Swinney has been to Tennessee several times. He admittedly grew up a big Georgia fan and it is close to home. Auburn and Florida State had huge season in 2013 and have some momentum, but Tennessee looks to be out in front for his services.