OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss running back Eric Swinney finally feels healthy, and he’s embracing the leadership role he has assumed during spring camp.
The junior from Riverdale, Georgia missed all of the 2015 season due to a stress fracture–and then missed the entire 2016 season after suffering a knee injury on his first play against Florida State.
Last season, Swinney played in 11 games and rushed for 195 yards on 41 carries. With D’Vaughn Pennamon—who was second on last season’s team in rushing yards with 217— out until this fall due to injury—Swinney is the veteran running back on the Rebels’ team.
Though he enters the 2018 season hoping to be atop the depth chart for running backs, Swinney is helping newcomers Scottie Phillips and Isaiah Woullard get adjusted to both the playbook and physicality of the Southeastern Conference.
In his eyes, they have both been performing well.
“I have seen nothing but great things, man,” Swinney said.
“They are learning the system very fast, making plays. Isaiah is strong, quick, and fast. Scottie is making big plays out there. I think those guys are going to do great things for us this season.”
Ole Miss Eric Swinney on Isaiah Woullard and Scottie Phillips
Throughout spring camp, Swinney has been helping the younger players, encouraging them to stay in the film room and to dive into the playbook every chance they get.
Although there’s no word yet on what the rotation will look like come fall camp, running backs coach Derrick Nix is preparing all of the running backs to see action on the field.
And because he has firsthand knowledge of how quickly an injury can occur that changes the lineup in the blink of an eye, Swinney understands exactly why Nix is extensively working all the running backs this spring.
“I’m getting a lot of reps, a whole lot of reps. Those guys are too,” Swinney said.
“We’re working out there, competing with each other. We’re just working every day. Coach Nix has us watching film, learning. Those guys are watching film every day. I am, too. We’re just working to make the team better.”
Swinney on the running backs’ work this spring
Now that he has physically recovered from his injuries, Swinney is confident he is returning to the form he showed when he was a speedy, authoritative running back at Sandy Creek High School.
“Everything feels like it’s in balance now. My body feels great. I’m taking care of myself more and learning how to take care of myself is really helping me.”
Swinney on his health
In addition to feeling better physically, Swinney is also feeling good about his place in the rotation and the role he hopes to play for Ole Miss this coming season.