The backup quarterback is usually everyone’s favorite player, and for the past two seasons, sophomore signal caller Tyrone Swoopes has played that role.
Now finding himself thrust into the starting role following another head injury to redshirt junior quarterback David Ash, Swoopes is ready to take over as starter for the foreseeable future.
“He’s been the cool, calm customer he is,” quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said. “I think he is a very well-liked player on this football team and a very well-respected player for his work ethic and his character and the person he is and what he puts in and what he’s working to accomplish here. So he has a lot of team respect, and the guys will rally behind him because of that.”
That poise has helped Swoopes earn the respect of his teammates, who see him continuing to work to improve as a player and a leader.
“The thing with Tyrone is that he’s a leader,” senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley said. “And a lot of guys don’t see that because you don’t see him on the field. But in the locker room, all of the guys love him. He’s all one of our good friends, pretty much everyone on the team. And we have a lot of respect for him. He’s an extremely hard worker.”
At 6 feet 4 inches and 240 pounds, Swoopes is nearly identical to Vince Young in size and stature, but those expecting similarities in their styles of play will be thoroughly disappointed. Young was elusive and nimble with his feet and used his legs primarily to open up throwing lanes, whereas Swoopes is more physical — running over guys with the ball and using his elite arm strength to break defenses deep.
“He can make some really big throws in tight windows,” redshirt senior receiver John Harris said. “Tyrone is a guy [who] has a really strong arm, as you can see when he played against Oregon, throwing the deep ball to Mike [Davis].”
Some people who saw Swoopes play last season have already wrote him off at quarterback. But those snaps were sporadic and often un-meaningful, and the Texas players have confidence that all it will take for Swoopes to excel is the opportunity to get
“Once he gets a couple of good plays in, he’ll start finding a little rhythm and just start doing what he does,” senior running back Malcolm Brown said. “Once he gets a couple throws in and gets in a rhythm, he’ll do fine.”
But the most important thing for Swoopes’ success is an understanding of how he can contribute to the Texas offense by utilizing the talent around him.
“Basically, his first transition he develops is he’s got to be a part of why we win,” Watson said. “I said a part — he’s got to understand what he’s got at his disposal. He’s got two great tailbacks, he’s got a really gifted corps of receivers, he’s got really good tight ends, [and] he’s got a really good offensive line, so he’s got to let those people help him. He does not need to put an ‘S’ on his chest and a cape on his back and try to do it all by himself. It won’t work that way.“
Swoopes is no longer the backup and will now faces a major test on national
television. With only 13 pass attempts under his belt, one shouldn’t be too quick to write off Swoopes if he struggles against BYU. For now, it is the responsibility of the rest of the team to play flawlessly and put Swoopes in position to help them win games.