If Texas fans questioned a first-round Whitewright exit to Lone Oak in last fall's high school playoffs for Tyrone Swoopes, the doubters are surely out in full force now after a 1-9 season to end his high school career.
Some of the numbers are shocking -- 3-of-11 against Tom Bean in a game that Whitewright lost 52-20. Against Munster, a 6-of-29 performance that netted only 40 yards through the air. A completion percentage of 42% on the year.
Of course, the context matters, too. Swoopes suffered a hamstring injury early in the year that slowed him down. Other injuries decimated the offensive line, such as it was.
And he did still manage to run for nearly 1,200 yards on 10 yards per carry. Along with only two interceptions.
Count ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer as one who still sees plenty of potential in Swoopes.
Asked about the struggles this fall by the raw quarterback, he was blunt in his assessment ($):
I don’t give a crap. I don’t even follow what these guys do during the high school seasons.
As a quarterbacks coach and former NFL player, Dilfer has a pretty good handle on Swoopes, having seen him in the Elite 11 trails and then at the Elite 11 camp during the summer, which included the Texas commit being rather overwhelmed at The Opening.
Dilfer didn't even think he should have been out there:
This kid needed a week with us first before that event. If The Opening was after Elite 11, he probably would’ve been the MVP. But because you put him in The Opening before he gets the training background, you’re going to have issues.
It definitely showed on the field at the Nike facilities in Beaverton and was an experience that Swoopes called "eye-opener," as he had limited 7-on-7 experience since he has spent his offseasons in high school running track and playing basketball.
Swoopes had trouble making reads to his left, throwing interceptions, and especially with his mechanics. The weakest team in the event didn't help, either, as his receiving corps included two of the more disappointing attendees Texas A&M commit Laquvionte Gonzalez and USC commit Eldridge Massington, both prospects from Texas.
There were some positives ($), however, from Dilfer's perspective:
What you saw -- and this is what Tyrone and Texas and every Swoopes fan needs to hold onto -- is that he has an incredible capacity to learn. He has an incredible capacity to self-correct. He can feel it, see it, understand it and change it. But it has to be taught.
The development of David Ash at Texas and Kellen Moore at Boise State should help Texas fans feel secure in believing that co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is the right person to help Swoopes through the tremendous amount of growth necessary to become a quality starting quarterback in Austin.
The confidence that Swoopes has in himself, an important part of the equation, hasn't flagged in the mind of Dilfer:
He knows it's going to take him a while, because he knows he has a lot to learn. But he knows he has it in him. That's what I love about Tyrone.
In fact, the most impressive thing about Swoopes at The Opening was that every time it seemed like he had hit his lowest point, he rebounded to make an excellent pass that confirmed that his upside is indeed where everyone thought that it was when he committed.
Just enough tantalizing potential to keep believing. Just enough competition greatness, even as Swoopes has fallen in the national rankings.
The summation from Dilfer:
You can be looking at a once-in-a-decade type of player in your program. Tyrone Swoopes don't come around all the time.
And that's why Harsin decided to take a chance on him after working with him extensively in person.
For now, in Harsin we trust. He's earned that much.
As much as things have changed in terms of Swoopes' ratings nationally, the need for patience has not. After all, Swoopes will enroll early and have plenty of time to prepare before competing for the starting job in the 2015 season.