Top 10: #5 - D.J. Swearinger

For South Carolina to reach its goals in the 2012 season, 10 players have to step up and have a big year. We begin the top 10 today and will conclude with the #1 player prior to the opening game against Vanderbilt. Today we take a look at the #5 player, D.J. Swearinger.

D.J. Swearinger enters his senior season as one of the leaders on the team. All the reviews from those inside the program say that Swearinger was constantly in the weight room over the summer and making sure the younger guys were following suit. The Greenwood native knows what is at stake this season and knows what this team is capable of.

"We're ready," Swearinger said. "We've been waiting on this all summer. Every day I've been saying the countdown, ‘we're live in four days,' so we'll be ready on Thursday."

Swearinger had a great 2011 season and made two game-saving interceptions that helped Carolina secure wins. In Knoxville, Tennessee had the ball inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter with Carolina holding a slim 7-3 lead, when South Carolina native Justin Worley was picked off by Swearinger. According to assistant head coach Ellis Johnson, Swearinger was actually out of position but was in the right place at the right time. Carolina went on the long touchdown drive to put the game away following the interception.

In the previous game Swearinger made one of the most unbelievable interceptions of the season against Mississippi State. With Carolina clinging to a 14-10 lead with 1:52 left in the contest, Mississippi State had the ball on the Carolina 32-yard line. Quarterback Tyler Russell dropped back and heaved one up in the air under pressure from Melvin Ingram. The pass was intended for Arceto Clark, but Clark got tangled up with C.C. Whitlock with both falling to the ground. It seemed as if the ball was going to fall harmlessly to the ground for an incompletion, but Swearinger came from nowhere and made the diving interception to clinch the win.

For the season Swearinger finished second on the team with 80 tackles, three interceptions, and a forced fumble. That success was enough to garner some preseason attention entering the 2012 season. Swearinger was named third team All-SEC by Phil Steele and second team All-SEC on both the media and coach's poll. Swearinger has played in all 40 games in his career, starting 21 times. He has 165 tackles and four interceptions.

Swearinger is by far the most experienced player in the secondary, as no other starter has started more than 10 starts. Swearinger must continue to be that team leader this season that the younger players can turn to. If Swearinger has a similar season as he had in 2011, the Gamecock secondary should be able to put up great numbers.

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