Who to watch in spring: Tyrone Swoopes

Editor's note: This is the fifth and final part of a weeklong series taking a closer look at Texas players worth watching when the Longhorns begin spring practices in three weeks.

You might be wondering why a series about Longhorns who need to thrive this spring isn’t wrapping up with a treatise on quarterback David Ash and his comeback from the concussion-related symptoms that shut him down in 2013.

Well, yes, he’s plenty important this spring and fall. But we know what Ash is capable of at his best -- he was a top-25 passer in several metrics as a true sophomore starter. We don’t know what’s next for Tyrone Swoopes.

He was put in an impossible situation last fall as a true freshman who needed to redshirt and get used to the college level. Swoopes’ cameo in the middle of the season, in the final minutes of a blowout win at TCU, was the first of his six appearances.

The experiment went about how we should’ve expected. Swoopes had too much to learn and never looked comfortable or confident. His practice performances improved late in the season, but that didn’t translate during his occasional playing time.

The last time we saw Swoopes, he completed 1 of 6 passes for 8 yards and rushed for 38 yards in the Valero Alamo Bowl loss to Oregon. A 26-yard rush was encouraging, and maybe the highlight of his season, but nothing else came easy for the first-year passer.

He has a chance to change things this spring, under a new quarterbacks coach in Shawn Watson, and he’ll get plenty of opportunity to get better. Here’s the best thing working in Swoopes’ favor in March and April: He’ll get a ton of snaps.

Once spring ball is over, freshman Jerrod Heard enters the program and the competition. USC transfer Max Wittek could, too. No matter who’s in the mix this summer and fall camp, Swoopes should be battling for the No. 2 job with the understanding he’s one snap away from being the starter.

Watson has experience with the inexperienced, preparing Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Martinez to play as freshmen at his previous two gigs, and Swoopes appears to have some raw tools that can wow his new coach.

But it’s still going to take time and patience if Texas wants to see Swoopes reach his ceiling, and he’ll need to work hard to master this new scheme.

He’s got a chance to flash his potential in a more meaningful way this spring, while the Longhorns only have two scholarship QBs on campus. Time to take advantage and show the new coaches what he can become over time.