Just a year ago, Tyrone Swoopes was on top of the world.
Swoopes was coming off an electrifying junior season that made him one of the most highly coveted prospects in the country. The Whitewright standout didn’t take long to make a decision — he committed to Texas less than three weeks after Signing Day last February.
Swoopes ran for 2,267 yards and 29 touchdowns while averaging 13.3 yards per carry as a junior in 2011. He threw for another 1,364 yards and 15 touchdowns as the 6-foot-5-inch, 229-pounder quickly inspired comparisons to former Longhorn star Vince Young.
But Swoopes’ stock fell rapidly during his senior season. Whitewright won just one game and Swoopes completed only 42 percent of his passes. ESPN re-classified him as an “athlete,” rather than a quarterback. He went from a five-star to a four-star prospect, according to rivals.com.
“When you watch him on junior film, he was just dominant,” Mike Farrell, rivals.com national recruiting analyst, said. “The mechanics were lacking but he’s not an inaccurate quarterback. He didn’t throw that much. He ran it more than he threw, but when he did throw, he wasn’t displaying the skills that he did in the spring. It got worse in the summer and then it started getting in his head and he didn’t have a very good senior year.”
Swoopes’ passing skills obviously need some work and he won’t be ready to make a significant impact in a Longhorns uniform for another one or two years. Those eagerly waiting for Swoopes to resurrect Texas’ football program must be patient and know the wait could pay off. Despite his unproductive senior season, Swoopes’ potential among Class of 2013 quarterbacks remains unparalleled.
“He’s a quarterback, and that’s an impact position,” Cypress Falls wide receiver Jacorey Warrick, a felalow Texas pledge, told The Daily Texan. “The quarterback will always impact the game, either positively or negatively.”
The fact that Swoopes was one of four Longhorns commits to enroll early is encouraging. He’ll need all the seasoning he can get before he steps on the field. The annual Orange-White scrimmage will likely be fans’ first opportunity to watch Swoopes in burnt orange; but, like Connor Brewer last season, Swoopes will almost certainly redshirt in 2013.
“He loved football. He embraced it,” Farrell said. “I think he lost some of that and they’re going to have to get that back for him. If he doesn’t get that back, he’s not going to make an impact. But if he does, I think he could be a very special football player. It’s just going to take a couple years.”
In a couple years, David Ash will have completed his senior season. Freshmen Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet and Class of 2014 commit Jerrod Heard will be waiting in the wings, but don’t be surprised if a much-improved Swoopes eventually takes over for Ash.
He just needs some time.