Tyrone Swoopes could have mailed it in after losing the starting quarterback job. Instead, he has reinvented himself.
Tyrone Swoopes is a quiet, unassuming guy. He didn’t show much emotion in 2014 when he slogged through a challenging 6-7 campaign. He took more lumps than most quarterbacks have to endure, from opponents to the media to the fans. It was a season to forget.
And after losing the starting job to Jerrod Heard in the second week of this season, it looked like his career at Texas would come to an end as an afterthought, like Chance Mock after Vince Young took over.
Instead, the junior stayed engaged in the program. He worked hard in practice. New play caller Jay Norvell found a way to get the 6-foot-4 240 pound Swoopes in to the game. The end result? His career is still alive.
The Swoopes package has arrived, and it is impressive. He has gone from a player who shied away from contact to a guy looking to run someone over.
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Charlie Strong made sure Swoopes knew there was a plan for him.
“Tyrone, he’s such a solid person,” Strong said at Monday’s press conference following the Kansas State game. “When we were going to make the change, I sat down with him, I said, we still going to have a package for you. It’s not like you’re going to go over and hold a clipboard, hold your helmet, watch the offense go up and down the field.”
Pick whichever nickname suites you, but Swoopes has earned the accolades. Against Oklahoma, his 3-yard run put Texas up 14-0, setting the tone for the day. He followed that up with a touchdown pass to Caleb Bluiett after faking another quarterback sneak at the goal line. That score turned out to be the winning touchdown.
It was sweet redemption for Texas fans after having to endure Blake Bell do the same thing to the Longhorns in 2012 when he plowed through the defense for four scores.
“You know what, he’s done a great job,” Strong added. “Now when he comes in, the whole team gets excited. If it’s third and one, you know he’s going to fall forward and get a first down. Then the package at the end where he just kept running. He’s so physical and strong. Great thing about him, he can throw the football, too. It’s a good package for us.”
The transformation from a timid player to a high-energy leader has been surprising to many, but not to his teammates. Center Taylor Doyle sees it every day.
“Swoopes is a guy who is going to bring a tremendous amount of energy,” Doyle said after the Kansas State game. “Every day in practice, every game day he’s out there, riling guys up. He’s excited to be there.”
Lost in all the Swoopes mania is how he is still supporting the guy who took his job. Heard speaks highly of his teammate.
“He is still right behind me,” Heard said at Tuesday’s press conference. “He is still always in my ear asking me what I see in this play and that. Tyrone is a really smart guy, and he helps me a lot when I am out there. He tells me the keys and what to look out for. I love it when the 18 Wheeler gets out there.”
Texas may be 3-4 and building for the future, but it is refreshing to see a young man carry the weight of the program on his shoulders, lose his starting job, and then find a niche that suits his skill set and flourish. He didn’t let adversity defeat him. He turned a negative into something positive. The program – and fan base – get to relish in his success.
Suddenly it is becoming a season to remember for number 18.