Tyrone Swoopes may never have felt worse on a football field than he did last Thanksgiving.
After committing five turnovers in a 48-10 home loss to TCU, the Texas quarterback got a few welcome words of advice from Horned Frogs counterpart Trevone Boykin. Swoopes recounted the impromptu chat Monday, just after being named the Longhorns starter for Saturday's opener at Notre Dame:
"Keep your head," Boykin told Swoopes, according to his account. "I was in the same situation as you. Just keep playing and keep learning and keep growing."
The sentiment is just as important now as then.
It's long been apparent that Swoopes would be the winner in a kinda-sorta quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. No one quite knows if the junior is anywhere close to the quantum leap that Boykin made from facing a position shift to Heisman frontrunner status this season.
The end-of-the-season meltdowns against TCU and Arkansas raised too many doubts about Swoopes during a 6-7 season. He looked tentative and even skittish in the face of defensive pressure, a turnover waiting to happen.
Still, Swoopes' experience with 12 starts gave him an early edge over Heard last spring and his arm strength helped him maintain it.
Coach Charlie Strong said Swoopes met the criteria he set back in late July.
"The guy that wins the quarterback position has to win over this team, and he's won over the team," Strong said. "It's going to be fun to watch him."
At times during his media session with reporters, Swoopes seemed a little overwhelmed, still sounding like the kid from a Class 2A school (Whitewright) feeling his way. He says his persona was vastly different during summer workouts and preseason camp.
"I feel like everybody is different around people they know and they're comfortable with," Swoopes said. "Yeah, I feel like I'm a lot different."
Teammates agree, portraying a vocal leader. Senior running back Johnathan Gray said Swoopes "had definitely done a 180 coming from last year" and sees greater maturity.
(h/t Dallas Morning News)