There is perhaps no college quarterback more honest than sophomore Tyrone Swoopes.
After a rough outing against Baylor, he admitted to being nervous in the game’s early stages. He looked a little sluggish in the open field against Oklahoma and was quick to acknowledge that he’s not exactly the fastest guy out there. And this week, Swoopes conceded that he didn’t believe his offense was capable of scoring the 48 points that it needed to squeak past Iowa State.
Heck, Swoopes even confessed that he didn’t know if he’d ever get to call the Texas offense “his.”
With David Ash gaining an extra year of eligibility and top recruit Jerrod Heard arriving on the 40 Acres this off-season, the Whitewright, Texas, native didn’t think he’d ever be the starter in Austin.
“I honestly did not,” Swoopes said. “I know a lot of other people didn’t think I would be either.“
Even his coach, Charlie Strong, wasn’t sure if Swoopes could handle the responsibility. After his struggles back in April, Strong joked that he considered taking advantage of his quarterback’s size somewhere else on the field.
“I go back to spring practice, and the spring game was like, wow, can he play quarterback?” Strong said. “I was going to tell him to move to another position.”
For what it’s worth, Swoopes never considered changing positions.
“No, I honestly didn’t,” Swoopes said. “I knew there was going to be growing pains. … So, I knew it was just going to be difficult at first."
Difficult indeed, but through it all, Swoopes maintained a level head and continued to put in the hours, knowing he might still get his shot.
“I knew I needed to stay ready,” Swoopes said. “[I] just went out and practiced every day, worked hard and just kind of came into what I am now.”
What he is now is a dual-threat gunslinger with a propensity to fill up the stat sheet.
The sophomore threw and ran for a total of 800 yards against Oklahoma and Iowa State, a two-game stretch that has only been matched by two others in program history: Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Not bad company for a guy who has only started six games.
Just a couple weeks ago, fans and media alike were clamoring for Heard to replace Swoopes. That narrative has quickly changed.
Swoopes’ recent success has many of those same people wondering if he is the dominant signal caller the Longhorns have been desperate for ever since McCoy left Austin in 2010.
His teammates aren’t looking so far ahead, but they, too, have noticed his exponential growth, and their expectations have risen accordingly.
“Every week that he plays better, our expectations get higher,” said senior receiver John Harris, who has been Swoopes’ favorite target this season. “He can be that guy here. I don’t understand why people doubt him.”
There aren’t many doubters left, but if those who remain do have one thing to hang their hat on, it would be Swoopes’ inability to win the big game thus far.
As the leader of the offense, Swoopes has come close against the likes of UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma, but he hasn’t been able to come up with a victory. He’ll get another chance this week against No. 11 Kansas State on the road.
“I think every quarterback has got to go out and get the big win because those big wins are what begin to define your career,” said Shawn Watson, quarterbacks coach and play caller. “I think that’s big for [Swoopes], and that’s his next step.”
As long as he continues to play the way he is now, Swoopes will eventually get the big wins.
Many of his teammates claim they’ve seen the potential in him for some time now, but there’s no way too many people thought he could be this good.
I, honestly, did not.