Tyrone Swoopes' spotlight gets brighter

WHITEWRIGHT, Texas -- About this time last year, Tyrone Swoopes was viewed as just another good football player. He put up excellent stats at the quarterback position. He was a model student-athlete and that character individual every coach hopes to have on his team.

Fast forward to February 2012, and nothing's changed -- except that he's no longer a sophomore full of potential. Swoopes is a junior who is considered one of the nation's most sought-after college prospects in the Class of 2013. Those around him knew this day would eventually come, and when it did, an overabundance of attention would follow.

With college coaches now scouting 2013 players full-time, Swoopes' life -- one that once included the occasional correspondence from an interested school -- has become something of a never-ending moment in the spotlight. For Swoopes, a humble kid who prefers to stay low-profile, the adjustment of being the target of multiple schools has been steady, but trying.

However, it's a roller-coaster ride he's willing to stay on until he signs next February.

"It's gotten really crazy," Swoopes said, "but I've got to talk to a lot of coaches that I've seen from TV. I've gotten to actually see some of the coaches and be in their offices. It's been a fun experience.

"Right now, I'm just trying to not let it all get to my head. I can't get cocky. I know it can be taken away from me in the blink of an eye."

At a shade under 6-foot-5 and a solid 220 pounds, Swoopes indeed passes the eye test. As a dual-threat quarterback, he's drawn early comparisons to both Vince Young and Cam Newton. Swoopes threw for 1,394 yards and 15 touchdowns his junior year, but it was the 2,267 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns that turned the heads of recruiters looking for a future signal-caller and playmaker.

All of Swoopes' highlight tapes feature the same thing: his long strides, breakaway speed, elusiveness -- a characteristic unseen in many players his size -- and his toughness, because he's usually delivering a hit against a smaller defender. They also keep Whitewright head coach Jack Wylie in contact with some of the most well-known college coaches in the country.

Swoopes has offers from some of the best programs around, including Oregon, Ohio State, Auburn, Stanford and national champion Alabama.

"It was Urban Meyer last week, Nick Saban the week before," Wylie said. "I tell them all that he's an outstanding player and the kind of kid you'd want your daughter to be with. We know about his athletic abilities, but I always follow it up with 'He's a great kid and great student.'"

Part of Swoopes' success stems from having a mother who preaches academics over football. Elizabeth Swoopes is a sixth-grade world history and geography teacher in the Whitewright school district. She also is a girls athletics coach. In the Swoopes household, "No pass, no play" has an even stronger definition.

"He's got a rock-solid mother who's not afraid to get in the middle of him," Wylie said.

Swoopes is an A and B student who is ranked No. 18 in his class, so being an academic qualifier won't be an issue. His only major issue will be narrowing his college choices. That, and dealing with the barrage of calls from the numerous schools showing interest -- which comes with the territory of being a high-profile recruit.

"It's been a little overwhelming, more than what I expected," Elizabeth Swoopes said, "but it's a good problem to have.

"With his personality, he's used to being in the spotlight … but he's not used to being in the spotlight, if you know what I mean. He's kind of reserved, but he's really taking it all in stride. We both understand that this is a lifetime investment, and he's getting the opportunity to see some of the great programs of college football."

Swoopes hears from coaches all over the country, but he hears the most from Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas. He returned to Whitewright from Austin, Texas, on Sunday after attending the Texas junior day. It wasn't his first trip to Texas, but the visit was beneficial because it was his first with his mother.

Swoopes has built relationships with Texas assistants Bruce Chambers and Bryan Harsin, as well as Baylor assistant Jim Gush and Oklahoma assistant Josh Heupel. He's looking forward to building relationships with other coaches as his recruiting process continues to mature in the spring and summer.

"I'm just trying to see who's really interested in my safety and actually getting my education," Swoopes said. "I want to do physical therapy, so I want to make sure I go someplace where it's not just about the football side of things."

Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles