Michigan lineman now with a Husker offer

As an offensive lineman, Brother Rice high school's Darris Sawtelle is both a thinking man's lineman and a lineman, whose intensity is equally ideal for the position. That's something Darris himself takes great pride in, being able to combine both with equal adeptness. Schools around the country apparently agree, the offers for Sawtelle consisting of some impressive names and Nebraska is one of the most recent.

You can ask five different people what they want in a lineman and you will probably get five different answers. Some want intensity and aren't all that concerned with technique. Some want technique and are more concerned with strength than intensity. Some just want a freakish athlete at the position, confident that they can teach them what they want to know.

However you define it, when it comes to a combination of all of those, some big names are already agreeing that Darris Swatelle fits their criteria to a tee.

At just over 6 foot, 5 inches tall and weighing around 290 pounds, Swatelle has the frame. With a 365 bench and a 525 squat, he's definitely in possession of the strength. He reports a 5.1/40, has a 3.0 GPA and he brings that all together with one of the intangibles that no coach can teach.


"You've got be angry enough and tough enough to be effective out there," Darris said. "You have to dominate the opponent and basically you just have to have a nasty streak in you, but you still have to maintain control at all times."

Sawtelle will strike anyone talking to him as a personable young man, but more than that, someone extremely knowledgeable of the game. An admitted fanatic about watching film, both of opponents and any game in general, Darris said that while he's worked very hard to be physically good at the game, he works just as hard as grasping the mental part as well. "I watch film a lot, but I watch my position," Sawtelle said. "I'll be at a party or whatever and there will be the NFL on and everyone will be going on about guys like Tike Barber, Terrell Owens or players like that."

"I look at guys like (Kyle) Turley and how they handle the guys they play and that's what I love to watch. I'm a lineman, so I like watching the best linemen play."

One thing about the former St. Louis Ram and New Orleans Saint is the fact that like Sawtelle sees himself, he's intense, but he never loses focus of the job. But there's also something Turley brings to the table, which Darris said is absolutely key in doing everything a lineman is supposed to do. "He's really protective of his players out there," Sawtelle said of Turley. "That quarterback is his responsibility and if you mess with the QB, you mess with him."

"That's my job out there too. No matter where the quarterback is, it's my job to make sure he doesn't get hurt. If he's in the pocket, I make sure nobody gets back there to him, but if he boots out, it's my job to follow him and make sure nobody can get to him."

"One of your main jobs as a lineman is to protect and no matter where on the field my guy is, that's what I plan to do."

Part of his success in doing that was helpful in his Bloomfield Hills, Michigan team going all the way this last season. And you can imagine that he would like to leave his high school days with consecutive titles to his name.

That's been a focus, along with strength and conditioning in the off-season and, of course, grades, but he's been trying to look at the division 1-A schools when he gets a chance.

The only problem is, time isn't on his side, because while he's visited Michigan and Tennessee, the offers continue to climb, Nebraska now adding themselves to a mix, which already included the Wolverines and Vols, but Arizona State, Toledo and Michigan State as well.

And this is a young man who says that while he admires many programs, there are none he would commit to without ever actually visiting. Which is, of course, smart, but the question now comes down to time and if he will be able to make any visits at all this off-season.

"That's the plan, but I don't know exactly when," Darris said. "I'd like to get out to Nebraska, but I just don't know when that's going to be possible. My teachers have been really great and understanding of what I have to do in regard to this stuff, but you can't let your academics slip too far. So, that's what I am trying to keep in mind right now."

Darris' attraction to Nebraska isn't like the one he has to either Michigan or Tennessee. With the Wolverines, it's the home-town team and the one he's followed consistently for 15 years. With Tennessee, that's where his grandfather played, which means he's followed them pretty avidly too.

With the Huskers, it's about what Sawtelle knows of them, their past and most definitely about their future. He sees the Nebraska staff as a group that could get him where he wants to go. "Coach Callahan was an offensive line coach in the NFL," Darris said of Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan. "He knows what it takes to get to where I would ideally like to be."

"Plus, you look at the tradition of Nebraska, they win and they just put tons of linemen into the NFL."

Another team which could get into the mix are the USC Trojans. Sporting an old NFL coach of their own in Pete Carroll, the program has the luster and the success all recruits like to see. They haven't offered yet, but Sawtelle said that as early as this evening, they were going to go over his film.

The attention he's gotten recently, especially with the offer from the Huskers and the increasing interest from USC – it tells Swatelle that this whole recruiting thing isn't going to get any easier. There will more than likely be a lot more teams, a lot more offers and his decision could get a lot tougher in the end.

That's why he's figuring he's going to make his decision early, perhaps before the summer is over, but definitely before the season, so that he can enjoy his final year of high school and prep ball.

"It's an honor to get recruited and I am humbled by everything I have received as far as the attention and offers I have received," Darris said. "But this is my last year of high school and I want to go out knowing that my mind is where it needs to be."

"I think it would probably just be best to get this decision out of the way before all of that, so I can enjoy it for what it is and have my focus on helping this team get to another state title."

Because he's only visited Michigan and Tennessee, Sawtelle admits that logically, that means those teams are in the lead. The only other way that any team can break into that is if he can personally get out there to see just what they have to offer.

The calendar will end up being his biggest enemy then, if he's truly going to take other teams into account, and it will no doubt be Michigan and Tennessee's biggest friend.

But Big Red Report will follow the situation to see if Darris can indeed make it to Lincoln for a visit or if the big two stay that until he decides which place he wants to go.

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