Tyrone Swoopes is big, athletic and has all of the potential in the world. He is also fighting for his future as a Texas Longhorn.
Even though he is in just his second year, the window is closing for the player hailed as the next Vince Young. David Ash's concussion-like symptoms, the same that caused Swoopes' redshirt to be burned in 2013, have receded. Then there is the impending arrival of Jerrod Heard, the nation's top dual-threat quarterback.
With Ash a rising senior, he is more of a temporary hurdle to Swoopes. His real competition for the next three years will be Heard, who will charge toward the starting job no later than the 2015 season.
Essentially, that gives Swoopes this one 2014 season to put some distance between himself and the program's prized recruit. And Swoopes will have to get it done with Ash's 21 career starts standing in his way.
Will Swoopes rise up and fulfill his obvious potential, or will Texas fans have to wait on Heard to show them the future? To a significant extent, that question will be answered this spring.
Swoopes' Career to Date
Quickly adding 20 pounds to his 6'4" frame, Swoopes was able to jump incumbents Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet on the depth chart. After a strong performance in the spring game, he became the future of the program mere months after many doubted he could even play quarterback.
Entering the season as the third option, Swoopes was elevated to backup status when Ash went down with a concussion. And when his redshirt was burned in the Longhorns' 30-7 victory, pandemonium ensued within the fanbase. Every mistake by starter Case McCoy bolstered the argument for Swoopes to see more action, and each shot of him on the sideline made the decision to burn his redshirt even more puzzling.
Swoopes never saw an expanded role, finishing the season with 26 passing yards along with 79 rushing yards and a score. His best statistical game came in garbage time against Oklahoma State, going 3-of-4 for 17 yards with five carries for another 22. He also played well against Oregon, ripping off a 26-yard run and uncorking a 50-yard bomb that was flat-out dropped by Mike Davis.
That pass from Swoopes traveled 56 yards in the air and Davis dropped it. Gotta catch those in big-time football.— Cedric Golden (@CedGolden) December 31, 2013
Why He's Special
So what's the big deal about a quarterback that barely accounted for three yards per play? Well, he's 6'4" and 245 pounds with the arm potential to be an unstoppable dual-threat.
Even at this size, Swoopes' elusiveness in the open field is a thing of beauty. He glides past defenders with his long strides, and can finish runs like a power back thanks to his size.
All that's missing is some polish as a passer, which he has begun to add since arriving at Texas. His climbing of the depth chart in 2013 was due in large part to his improved passing, evidenced by the aforementioned deep throw to Davis against Oregon.
As Trent Dilfer, Swoopes' coach at the Elite 11, told SB Nation's Wescott Eberts, "If you can teach Tyrone Swoopes to make the perfect throw, holy smokes, how do you defend him? He does everything else well."
What Needs to Happen This Spring
All that's preventing Swoopes from taking a stranglehold on Texas' quarterback position is his passing. He has to work extensively with quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson to get where he needs to be.
For all of the improvement Swoopes enjoyed last spring, he will have to redouble his efforts the second time around. With Watson bringing his West Coast principles to the Longhorns, Swoopes' ability to start directly correlates to his ability to make consistent, on-target throws.
If Swoopes can do that, he has gargantuan potential under Watson. Not only did the former Louisville play-caller mold Teddy Bridgewater into the nation's most accurate passer, but he was also the mind behind Taylor Martinez's monstrous freshman season at Nebraska.
Swoopes is bigger, more athletic and has a bigger arm than both of those former Watson standouts. And with another big spring practice, he can turn all of that ability into a transcendent sophomore season.
All stats and information courtesy of TexasSports.com.