AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Fans watch the pre-game show before the start of the NCAA Big 12 game between the Texas Longhorns and the Texas Tech Red Raiders on November 5, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
In desperate need of a blocking tight end, the Texas Longhorns reached into the JUCO ranks to find one.
The Texas Longhorns have been looking for a second tight end in the 2013 class after securing Durham Smythe of Belton (Texas) back in March. Prior to Tuesday, the only JUCO target on the radar was Beau Sandland. Until Oroville (Calif.) Butte CC's Geoff Swaim made his way to Austin and earned an offer before committing on the spot, as broken by Horns Nation ($).
The last three offers for the Longhorns have all been relatively off the radar: Cibolo Steele (Texas) safety Erik Huhn, Waco (Texas) strongman Andrew Billings and now Swaim. But the latter is the most shocking. The tight end is now the 15th commitment for the Longhorns in the class. He had no other offers and is not rated by the services.
The 6'5, 250 pounder explained to Horns Nation how it went down, even though no one knew he was in the mix for an offer or even in town:
About 11:15 this morning I met with Coach Brown in his office with Coach [Bryan] Harsin and Coach [Bruce] Chambers. We were just talking football and he mentioned that I had what they were looking for in a football player but also in a person in general. He goes, 'Hey, so would you like to play football for Texas? We would like to offer you a full scholarship.' And I said, 'This is amazing, and it was a great opportunity for me.'
After years attempting to convert high school wide receivers into collegiate tight ends, the Texas staff has changed the approach in recent months, hoping to find players at the position with more experience in the trenches. Smythe fits the bill as a true tight end who also works some outside to take advantage of his hands and size, but Swaim is also the best pure blocker the Longhorns have landed at tight end in years.
In fact, it was Swaim's blocking that drew the attention of the Texas coaches:
The one thing that stood out to them in watching my film from other tight ends is that my film was primarily all blocking. They said they wanted a guy that could help them get back to running power football. I can come in January and make an impact. I am that physical, hard-nosed guy that can block the end.
Part of the reason why the blocking stands out on film is because that appears to have been his primary role in the Butte offense last season, as he worked at fullback and as an H-back, besides his duties in-line. While there is little evidence of what he can do on film as a receiver after catching only five passes last season, Swaim does move well, has solid feet, and can at times pack some punch, though he needs to work on maintaining his blocks past initial contact.
Barking Carnival had some further thoughts on his blocking ability:
Most H-backs thrive at screening defenders off and turning a shoulder rather than leading between the tackles. It's physics. Tall lead blockers tend to get stood up in the hole, lacking the center of gravity, low pads, and leg drive required. Swaim has the ability to get small and uncoil, and Butte's offense ran their lead play right off of his ass like he's Maurice Carthon. He also brings his feet with him when he gets there. You see a pretty good demonstration of it in his first two highlights.
Swaim is technically sound. He's able to square on defenders in space and gets his fit on the edge nicely as a traditional TE. He runs with a noticeable forward lean, but shows good enough feet, technique, and coordination to prevent getting matadored as the defender flows to the ball. Fear of overreach is why blockers struggle to put their full power on defenders in space and they tend to acquire blocks rather than drive through them. Many of Swaim's pancakes have to do with his feet and technique - and the abandon they allow him to play with - more than his power clean.
With all the other available in-state tight ends either lacking the ideal size or mass for what Texas wanted in terms of a blocking force on the edge, Swaim appears to have been the best solution, even compared to a more accomplished receiver in Sandland. In the end, the blocking prowess of Swaim won out over the receiving skills of the other JUCO prospect.