Shawn Watson encouraged by development of Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The development process continues apace, at least according to the quarterbacks coach for the Horns.

When the Texas Longhorns take the field at Darell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium early Saturday afternoon, the quarterback trotting out with the ones will be sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, a year after his impressive performance as an early enrollee that had fans excited about his future.

The buzz has died down around him in the time since, quite considerably in fact, even though he's barely played publicly, but play caller and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said on Thursday evening that he likes where his sophomore quarterback is now right with his development.

"I think so," Watson said when asked about whether Swoopes can be successful at the position.

"I am really encouraged by him. The thing I like about Ty is his demeanor. He has got poise."

The poise has been evident at times in important events like the Elite 11 and The Opening, as well as the spring game last year. But the quarterback position is so cerebral that merely performing well in between the lines and in between the whistles is far from enough.

The quarterback position is a craft honed by hours in the film room. And studying hard isn't necessarily studying right.

"He is a good study too and what I mean by that is he will put the time into it," said the assistant to the head coach for offense. "He has got great notes. I pick their notes up and I look at them to make sure that they are hearing me right and make sure they know how to. It is one thing to take notes and another to teach them how to take notes so I have been really impressed with the detail of his notes and how he has grown through the spring. I am really pleased with him, I really am."

Knowing the fundamentals of studying the game was something that Swoopes had to learn during the Elite 11 Finals in 2012, before his senior year of high school.

"There was huge development from Tyrone that week, even though he had never read a playbook and didn't know how to call a play, so think about how much his brain was moving," Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer told SB Nation last spring.

Now, there are vested interests here from both parties with Swoopes, so it's hard to take these comments are the gospel truth. At the same time, it would be silly to think that Swoopes hasn't improved in the last year. He steps up to challenges to well not to improve.

He already showed that ability throughout the Elite 11 process, that poise that Watson mentioned.

"The raw tools stood out, but on top of that we saw a guy that the brighter the lights, the better he performed," said Dilfer in reflection. "The more we cluttered his mind, the more he could quiet it -- no moment was too big. If you have that and you're coachable, we can do the rest."

This spring, Watson has put Swoopes through similar tests. It sounds like there has been success, from Watson's initial comments to the following thoughts.

"He is not a done product but every time we do something new situationally, we will put him in several different two-minute situations as an example, and every time he goes out there we put him in a new situation so because of that he has learned to rely on the fundamental principles of what it takes to be successful in that drill. Otherwise you can get lost in all the stuff."

"So he has really learned how to center himself so he has poise and he can be taught. I just like him a lot. I like his demeanor, I like his skill set; he is really explosive."

Of course, there's still work to do and potential left to reach and uncover.

"There are things that we are going to work on this summer in terms of things he needs to do in terms of mechanics of football but they are really easy fixes and everything he has done for us on the field," Watsons said. "He has been a hard worker and I know he wants to succeed because he has put it in his work ethic."

Watson said the mechanics of football, so he's probably not merely talking about the mechanics of throwing of football, but it's likely that Swoopes still needs some work there.

A low arm slot makes the delivery of Swoopes look a bit like Vince Young at times and isn't exactly ideal. The description from Trent Dilfer last spring based on their time together in the summer of 2012 still fits.

"He's a flat thrower -- he plays his position flat," Dilfer told SB Nation. "His arm is flat. We didn't want to change his rotation, because his rotation is right, but that ability at the last second to get his arm to the right spot and get the right trajectory was a focus."

It may be something that Swoopes doesn't ever completely correct, but if he can learn the game, there's a reason why Watson is encouraged, why Dilfer believes in Swoopes.

As Dilfer said, the raw tools are there. And the poise. And the work ethic.

The physical lights won't be on at DKR on Saturday, but the metaphorical lights will be bright.

Sounds like the type of scenario in which Swoopes steps up.

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