Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.
No. 18 Tyrone Swoopes
Recruitment rewind: A superstar at small-town, Class 2A Whitewright (Texas) High, Swoopes accounted for 9,191 yards of offense and 114 TDs as a quarterback/safety/returner whose rushing ability evoked comparisons to Vince Young. The nation's elite all wanted him (offer list here) and Texas went all-in on Swoopes over J.T. Barrett, who signed with Ohio State. But throughout 2012, Swoopes dropped in ESPN's rankings after shaky performances in national camps and a frustrating senior year in which Whitewright went 1-9. He went from being the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the initial ESPN 300 to off the list and 35th among all athlete prospects in the final rankings.
Career so far: Swoopes enrolled early and excited fans with his spring game debut. He was set to redshirt, but the loss of David Ash prompted Texas coaches to insert Swoopes midway through the season, starting with the final minutes of a win over TCU. He played in five games, rushing for 79 yards and a TD and completing 5 of 13 passes for 26 yards. Swoopes played with the No. 1 offense for much of spring ball this year after Ash went down with a foot injury and threw for 229 yards and three TDs in the spring game.
Best-case scenario for 2014: If Swoopes is called upon to play a significant role this season, can he be competent and confident in running Texas' offense? Will Shawn Watson be able to bring out the best in him and unlock some of that potential we all saw in Swoopes as a junior at Whitewright? The 6-foot-4, 240-pound sophomore might be a long-term project as a passer, but if he's forced to start and can prove to be a capable game manager who makes good decision and takes what's given to him, that would awfully encouraging.
Worst-case scenario for 2014: The new coaching staff might have a different perspective on what Swoopes brings to this team. Watson had good things to say about Swoopes' development this spring and seems genuinely committed to making the most of his talents. But if Jerrod Heard proves to be the long-term answer, might Swoopes be in for a move to tight end? Texas isn't in good enough shape with its quarterback depth to make such a move now, but based on Swoopes' impressive size and wheels, it's an option to keep in mind down the road.
Future expectations: Swoopes is a better player than he showed in his brief appearances last season. He should've played more once the redshirt was wasted, but instead only has four games of mop-up time and one bad appearance in the Alamo Bowl loss to Oregon to show for his first season. If Ash stays healthy and Swoopes stays on the bench in 2014, he'll have much more time to learn and improve and will be in better shape to compete for the starting job a year from now. If Texas coaches invest patience and time into his development, it could be rewarded richly in the future.