South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger has watched video of Ed Reed before each of his games since he was in high school.
Now he'll get to play alongside his idol: The Texans selected Swearinger in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, adding him to a defense that signed Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowler in the offseason.
"It was just a relief to know where I'm playing football next year, and to know I'm playing next to Ed Reed is just ... words can't even describe it," Swearinger said.
When asked how much he was looking forward to meeting Reed, Swearinger stumbled over his words before answering.
"I don't even know how excited I am," he finally managed. "I'm just ready."
The senior, who was chosen 57th overall, started 12 games last season and finished with 79 tackles, two forced fumbles and seven pass breakups. He also returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns.
Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips raved about him.
"D.J. Swearinger is very athletic in the mold of safeties that we like," Phillips said. "He can play the strong safety or free safety. He can cover a slot guy if you need him to. He's very versatile that way. He's smart, tough, aggressive — all the things you're looking for."
Reed and Danieal Manning are almost certain to start at the two safety positions for the Texans this season. But Houston needed another safety to take the place of Glover Quin, who signed with Detroit after starting every game the Texans in the past three seasons.
"He also fits in your sub-package," Phillips said. "That's what (Glover Quin) played for us, when the sub-package is playing over the tight end and being able to play the running game too. He fits well in there. We played that at least 50 percent of the time, so it's almost like adding a starter."
Like Reed, Swearinger is known for his hard hits.
"I take a whole lot of pride in being physical," he said. "Since I was little, it's been a strong part of my game to be a physical force in the middle and to control the middle. I think I've done a great job of that, and I'm just ready to take my game to a whole other level."
The Texans went to defense in Round 2 after selecting Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins with the 27th overall pick on Thursday night.
Hopkins flew into Houston and met with some of the Texans staff on Friday. The Biletnikoff Award semi-finalist led Clemson with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior last season. His 24 catches of 20 yards or more were the most in the ACC.
The Texans hope Hopkins can be the top-tier receiver the team has long needed to play opposite star Andre Johnson. Hopkins hadn't had a chance to talk with Johnson by Friday afternoon, but a couple of Houston's other stars had reached out to him.
"Me and Matt Schaub texted back and forth a couple times last night," Hopkins said. "J.J. Watt texted me and told me congratulations and be ready to come in and compete for a Super Bowl."
The Texans have lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
Houston added North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams in the third round with the 89th pick and LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery a few picks later at 95.
The 6-foot-6, 318-pound Williams earned honorable mention All-ACC honors last season despite missing the last four games after shoulder surgery. His father, Brent Williams, was a defensive end in the NFL from 1986-1993 with the Patriots, Seahawks and New York Jets.
"He's a big man, he's got long arms," offensive line coach John Benton said. "He's really a pretty good athlete ... and we really liked his play style, thought he fit what we did. He's aggressive. He's a finisher."
Montgomery was fifth in the Southeastern Conference with eight sacks and also had 13 tackles for losses. He finished with 37 tackles for a defense that ranked eighth in the country with an average of 307.6 yards a game.
He'll move to outside linebacker in Phillips' 3-4 alignment.
"Pass rush is a priority in our defense and he does bring an element of rush off the edge," linebackers coach Reggie Herring said. "It is probably undeveloped and raw, but he has the basic ingredients and that is he can rush speed to power. He's an explosive player."