It wasn't that long ago that the stock of Texas Longhorns early enrollee quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was plummeting in the recruiting rankings after a trying summer and an even more difficult senior season.
It wasn't long ago that expectations had basically dropped to the point where there were hardly any expectations for Swoopes at all.
Then Swoopes showed up on campus in Austin, quickly reached 250 pounds after playing at somewhere around 230 pounds as a senior and started to put a dent in the Texas quarterback depth chart. Reports out of the Saturday scrimmage had him receiving more reps ($) than redshirt freshmen Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet, even as the latter has become something of a fan favorite due to his running ability and the unseen potential that every fan loves to imagine.
Another report from National Football Post from several days earlier, which seems remarkably unsourced given that all the practice reports live behind paywalls and head coach Mack Brown hasn't spoken with the media, makes a similar claim about Swoopes moving ahead of the two older players.
So why is Swoopes receiving such heavy reps?
There are a couple of possibilities.
Brown often likes to make note of the fact that older players need to perform well in the spring in order to receive reps ahead of younger players who need them in the fall. It's possible that a similar scenario is taking place with Swoopes -- the coaches want to give him the reps to aid his development and Brewer and Overstreet didn't do enough last fall and early in the spring to command them, even if they are slightly ahead of Swoopes.
The least likely possibility is that Swoopes is being groomed to play some as a freshman -- without having seen him in person over the last several weeks, it's difficult to say conclusively where Swoopes is in terms of his development, but it seems safe to say that he's still raw and not yet ready to see the field.
In other words, don't look for a package of plays for Swoopes this fall, or for him to steal the back-up job away from Case McCoy, who simply has too much game experience to fall behind a player so much younger and still in need of so much work.
The most likely possibility, however, is that Swoopes is just playing better than Brewer and Overstreet and has earned those the increased reps, passing both on the depth chart in the process.
During the open practices, the Whitewright product did struggle with his accuracy at times, especially skinny posts, but he is an imposing figure on the field at 6-5 and has a sneaky type of speed that is common for athletes of his size, helping to quell the concerns about his movement ability that arose after he ran a poor 40 time at The Opening and after he had the opportunity to show so little during his senior campaign.
The good news is that it seems Swoopes continues to show the flashes of excellence that made him a five-star prospect early in the cycle, the same flashes that he even showed late in the process as opinion of him as a long-term option for Texas at quarterback was dropping.
And his move up the depth chart may mean that he gets a series or two with non-walk ons during the spring game, though it's almost impossible to say at this point how playing time will be distributed.
But yeah, Swoopes won't be moving to tight end any time soon. And those people who wanted to write him off should probably start reconsidering those positions.