By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — It came in a blink. Chris Martin spotted a flash of white out of the corner of his eye and the St. Joseph’s Prep quarterback promptly darted the ball in that direction.
It was up to D’Andre Swift to do the rest. A quick spin, a sidestep, a hop and the talented St. Joe’s freshman was gone. He bolted 31 yards with the first of his two touchdowns in Prep’s 35-28 Catholic League Class AAAA victory over archrival La Salle last week.
Swift has that kind of gifted ability where he comes in flashes and bolts. He’s fourth in the nation in the 100-meter dash and he’s gradually proving to be one of those rare kind of players, even though he is only a freshman.
Then again, the hints have been coming for some time. One came the first time Swift ever touched the ball in organized football. He took it 60 yards for a touchdown. He was seven.
He had the kind of motor that used to drive his parents up a wall trying to catch him around the house. Once he learned to walk, he’s been moving ever since.
Now he’s ripping through defenses everywhere from Dallas, Texas to some of the premier teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Swift is averaging 6.2 yards a carry and 13.5 yards a reception. He has five touchdowns in seven games. Simply put, each time he touches the ball, something electric usually follows.
He’s moving before the game is even played.
“This is all new to me,” Swift said. “I still get nervous, really, really nervous before games. I have to get that first hit and that’s when I begin to relax. It has been exciting though, to be a freshman playing at Prep with the guys we have on this team. There’s a brotherhood here, a real strong bond. All the coaches, the players, I love it. But I can’t stand still before games. I have to do something, jump, run, I have to keep moving to [ease some of the anxiety].”
Prep coach Gabe Infante had no issues thrusting Swift right in. When teammates were falling to leg cramps in Prep’s season opening 48-27 victory at Dallas Jesuit, Swift was churning out 56 hard yards on seven carries.
Infante had an idea what Swift could be. He was convinced after that. Part of Infante’s initiation involved Swift participating in the off-season training program with Prep’s varsity. Swift showed a maturity and confidence that is unique for his age.
“D’Andre has a chance to be really, really special,” Infante said. “He combines power, quickness, top speed, great football IQ, balance, great hands, he has a lot of things. This was a big jump for him, especially at the level we play. It was a huge jump. He played his first high school game in Dallas, Texas. He went from playing youth football to opening up in Texas. Think about that.
“Your concern is that you’re always going to expose someone young too soon. Not with D’Andre. He plays with an enormous amount of confidence. The kid is a winner. His belief in winning is so strong that it’s infectious. The kid is special, he can do anything. He can play guard if I put him there. D’Andre is only going to get better—and he’s extremely coachable. D’Andre is a humble kid, who has great parents. He wants to learn. He wants to be coached. The kid is something special.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.