The big miss


What could have been? Swope caught 89 passes last season.
What could have been? Swope caught 89 passes last season.

Good thing they make white-out, because while filling out my Big 12 Media Preseason Football team, I had one Swope, Ryan, occupying the top wide receiver spot.

And then, oops, I remembered Swope is an Aggie and the Aggies are now, surreally, in the Southeastern Conference. I settled on Baylor's Terrance Williams and Oklahoma's Kenny Stills, but neither are better than Swope.

Then, if you so choose, you can remember that Swope grew up a Longhorn fan, tore up 5A competition for years as a running back and returner at Westlake High School -- an All-State back and 25-5A offensive MVP who ran for 1,826 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior -- was not offered a scholarship by Texas and signed with Texas A&M.

Big mistake. Big, big mistake.

Because what if I told you 11 of the 20 players Texas signed in 2009 either quit, transferred or were kicked off the team before their eligibility expired? Or that the only running back taken, Chris Whaley, has since moved to defensive tackle? Or the only receiver taken, Greg Timmons, never saw the field at Texas and spent the last fall catching passes at East Central Community College.

Meanwhile, Swope has done the following in three seasons:

180 receptions, 2,204 yards, 16 touchdowns.

His 89 catches for 1,207 yards as a junior were both single-season school records. Swope decided to return for his senior season -- more egg in Texas' face, because the Longhorns have only had four receivers drafted to the NFL the last 10 years.

You could look at Swope and divine that he never would have been the same player at Texas. A valid argument considering the problems the Longhorns have had developing receivers recently. However, even primarily playing running back in high school, Swope flashed the tools necessary to play wideout: he placed fifth at the 5A State track meet as a junior with a time of 10.7 in the 100-meter dash, caught 44 balls for 982 yards and 11 touchdowns in two years and spent his sophomore season at free safety, covering wide receivers for State Finalist Westlake.

No way Swope or stud Auburn receiver Emory Blake should have slipped out of Texas' grasp -- and it is considered an embarrassment that a program that prides itself on recruiting overlooked two city stars. This isn't the same thing as not offering Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Luck was a heavy Stanford lean, and RG3's father told me at the NFL draft in April that his son never really considered playing at Texas because he wanted to make his own imprint (and plus, Texas had dialed in on Garrett Gilbert, the best high school quarterback in state history). Luck and Griffin III going No. 1 and No. 2 in the Draft is just kind of bad luck.

But for a kid to grow up bleeding orange, put up major numbers at a power high school 10 miles from campus, get spurned, sign with the rival school, shatter school records and appear on a who's who of the nation's best wide receivers?

It's a great, big mess, and an even bigger miss.