Arguably one of the more intriguing prospects that the Texas Longhorns have recruited in the past decade, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is now on campus. But how soon will he be able to make an impact?
Hailed a year ago as the second coming of Vince Young, a rough 2012 saw Swoopes fall from the nation's top-rated dual-threat quarterback to falling completely out of the ESPN 300 as well as the Rivals 250. Now, as an early enrollee, he comes to the Forty Acres with something to prove and the time to do it.
The good news is that while his status on the recruiting landscape has changed tremendously, not much else has. He is still supremely athletic for his size, still has a howitzer for a right arm and still has as good a shot as anyone to be Texas' future at quarterback. It all depends how much he can absorb about the position.
But given his athleticism, Swoopes has a chance to immediately contribute for this Longhorn team even if he is redshirted. Following are the four scenarios in which he could do just that, ordered from most likely to almost impossible.
The most likely scenario that Texas fans will see play out with Tyrone Swoopes in 2013 is that he will be redshirted, where he could still make a meaningful behind-the-scenes impact.
With Swoopes now on campus, the Longhorns have five quarterbacks on their roster with rising junior David Ash at the top of the depth chart. But just as redshirt freshmen Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet did a year ago, Swoopes could make the most of his redshirt status by pushing his teammates every day at practice in an effort to make himself and his teammates better. He would also be wise to use this time to build some familiarity with the receivers as about a dozen of them will still be around in 2014.
Another area in which Swoopes could contribute is gameplanning for mobile quarterbacks. Throughout high school he was extremely proficient running the zone-read, which would be a great help in preparing for guys like Oklahoma's Blake Bell.
Everything here depends on Swoopes' attitude. If he comes in with a chip on his shoulder and displays great work ethic, he could show early signs of living up to his potential and generate some momentum for 2014. As a freshman with a whole lot to learn, that is probably how this will shake out.
Could we see Swoopes as a short-yardage specialist a la Tim Tebow in 2006?
Another way Swoopes could make an impact is as a situational quarterback, where his athleticism and proficiency in the zone-read would be pay immediate dividends.
Swoopes does not yet have the accuracy or the mechanics to be an every-down player, but his athleticism may be too much for the coaches to resist using him the way Florida used Tim Tebow back in 2006. He is very familiar with being the primary option in the zone-read and, at 6'5" and 230 pounds, can handle the contact required to play that role in the offense.
Johnathan Gray was successful taking snaps out of the Wildcat last season, but he does not have the height or the throwing ability that Swoopes does. So if he proves indispensable in such a role and makes enough progress as a thrower this offseason, we could very well see Swoopes out there in short-yardage situations next season.
It would take a total miracle, but Swoopes could make an immediate impact as a starter in 2013.
If David Ash proved anything last season, it is that a full offseason can do wonders for a quarterback's development. Thanks to his early enrollment, Swoopes has that full offseason to work on the accuracy and mechanical issues that forced him out of the rankings.
Should he become passable in those areas, Swoopes could feasibly excel in a spread-option attack where he ran the ball 15-20 times per game. He has the athleticism, poise and arm strength for such a scheme and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has shown a proclivity for the spread, as well as using his signal-caller as a runner.
The problem here is that there are four quarterbacks ahead of Swoopes and at least two of them would have to get hurt and/or transfer for him to get a shot, even if Texas went with an option-heavy attack. Currently, he is just too much Tim Tebow and not enough Colin Kaepernick to start over any of Texas' other quarterbacks.
The last place where Tyrone Swoopes could make an impact in 2013 as a receiver. But don't count on it.
At 6'5", Swoopes certainly has the size to man the wide receiver position. Some will look at his 4.77 40 time and say he is too slow, but he plays much faster than that speed and he also weighs about 230 pounds. Should he get down to about 205-210, he would probably crack 4.5 and slide nicely into a role on the outside.
But this, even with four incumbents and potential superstar Jerrod Heard on his way in 2014, is just not going to happen. The coaches are just not going to give up on Swoopes that quickly, especially since he has been working tirelessly to show that he can play the position. Not to mention that Texas will have eight receivers on the roster that caught a pass last season with two more coming in this year's recruiting haul.
There is a possibility that this could happen in the future, especially if Heard is the real deal, but not in 2013.