In our countdown of the top 150 players in the nation, we've been to the Midwest, we've been to the West, we've hit the Pacific Northwest a time or two and the East Coast as well.
Now we're heading down into the Southwest, for a player on a team that plays in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M grabs a spot here with Ryan Swope.
No. 144 Ryan Swope, No. 25, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Ryan Swope is a sort of "football player's football player," if you will. He just shows up every single game and gets his job done.
Nothing fancy about him, nothing jumps off the sheet you and he is not a guy that scares most defenders, but somehow, the former high school running back makes plays on a game in and game out basis.
The kid from Westlake High School in Austin can call "understanding" his biggest strength. Swope has an advanced understanding of the game—"high football IQ" if you want to kick around that overused term.
What Swope has is an advanced comprehension of how football works. He knows when to round off his routes. He knows when to feather away from the defender. He knows when to stick his foot in the ground and come back for the ball. He knows how to sit in a zone and make himself big for the quarterback.
Swope gets it very well and he uses all of those tools to his advantage.
He also has great hands. When the ball is thrown his way, he catches it and then gets up field. It is like clockwork where he is concerned.
Oh, and it must be mentioned that the young man blocks his behind off. He gets after it in the run game as well as any receiver in the college game.
It is a tired, old cliche to say that the white wide receiver lacks speed or athleticism. Check out his four-touchdown outing against Baylor where he put up 206 yards and tell me this kid isn't athletic. So that idea is out the door where Ryan Swope is concerned.
His biggest weakness is not his overall speed or athleticism; it is his height—it's the one thing that keeps Swope from being more of a big-time receiver. At a generous 6'0", he just is not the big threat who scares people over the top.
The biggest factor in Swope's senior campaign will not be losing his quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The biggest determinant of his success will be how A&M goes through transition: at the coaching position and in conferences.
They're moving from Mike Sherman's offense into the Air Raid of Kliff Kingsbury. They're moving from the defense-optional Big 12 to the defense-required SEC. Swope's going to have to understand this new offense and he's going to have to do it while defensive intensity is revved up a few notches.
Swope doesn't have an easy path in 2012. He loses Jeff Fuller on the opposite side and he'll be breaking in a new quarterback. However, he will still be the go-to guy and his understanding of football should not be underestimated, regardless of the league he's playing in.
Florida, LSU and Alabama won't be easy for him to get big numbers against, but he should see plenty of success in 2012 against the other nine opponents. Look for the senior to get over that 1,000-yard mark again in 2012.