Behind a thin, struggling offensive line, the Rebel rushing attack struggled in 2014. Ole Miss averaged just 167.7 rushing yards per game, good for ninth in the SEC and sixth in the SEC West and almost a full football field's worth of production less than the conference's leaders, Auburn and Georgia.
The solution to this, it would seem, would be a more experienced, deeper line, and an injection of talent into the offensive backfield. Jaylen Walton is a fan favorite for his gutsy play and wheel route badassery, and Jordan Wilkins showed incredible promise late in the season, but what the Rebels really lacked last season was a between-the-tackles rusher with both guts and size.
5'10, 185 pounds
Sandy Creek High School, Tyrone, Ga.
I'm very, very high on Swinney, a consensus four-star prospect who was considered the best halfback in Georgia this past year. Being that he committed early and didn't waver in his commitment, Ole Miss fans have sorta forgotten about what a great get this guy is. In that sense, he's the Donte Moncrief of his class; he's a four-star prospect who went unnoticed due to the recruiting drama surrounding other four/five-star prospects. (In the case of Moncrief, those prospects would be Tobias Singleton and Nick Brassell... It's okay to laugh.)
What really stands out about Swinney is his versatility and balance. Check the footage:
Swinney averaged around 141 yards per game during his senior season as the go-to guy in Sandy Creek's offense. He's a one-cut type of halfback, slashing and darting into open space before breaking it open with surprising finishing speed. He isn't John Avery fast (or even Deuce McAllister fast), nor is he Dexter McCluster quick, but he's got a fluid, natural athleticism that should make him elusive enough at the next level. He finds space, gets into it, and is adept at slipping past safeties in the open field, at least at the high school level. He also shows good hands as a receiver out of the backfield (and even in the slot), but will need to become a more polished pass catcher a la Jeff Scott or Walton if he's to excel in Hugh Freeze's offense in that capacity.
One thing about Swinney that really sticks out to me is just how strong he is and how adept he is at using his lower body to get enough leverage to break tackles. That shouldn't translate immediately into him #BeastModing SEC defenders around, but it certainly shows promise for Swinney to fill a role as a legit every down back.
With Mark Dodson transferring to Memphis, I'Tavius Mathers heading home to Middle Tennessee and Akeem Judd not producing enough to avoid a redshirt last season, it's reasonable to think that Swinney could find some time in the rotation at halfback alongside Walton and Wilkins. If he can grow, polish his skill set, and not sacrifice his natural athleticism in doing so, it's not unreasonable to think that he could find his way into a starting role before his Ole Miss career is over.