Zach Swanson: On the Field

Alan Zepeda,'s Texas recruiting analyst, is as familiar with 2010 tight end commit Zach Swanson's (Katy, Tex.) play as just about anyone – save for Swanson himself. Hear from them both as they discuss where and how they see Swanson contributing to Stanford football.

Though Stanford represented Katy, Tex. tight end Zach Swanson's first and only offer when Swanson committed to the Farm on March 3, Texas recruiting analyst Alan Zepeda is convinced Swanson is a Pac-10 level player.

"Over 400 players sign each year in Texas, so there should be over 200 three stars," Zepeda said. "In Texas, he's a top-200 player. In Texas, he's in the 100 to 150 range, in the three-star range. He's a three-star type of player with upside."

Zepeda repeatedly stressed Swanson's upside in his interview with The Bootleg. He said, compared to most high school players, Swanson required Stanford's coaching staff to really project the type of player Swanson might develop into, as he had so little experience catching passes.

"With Zach Swanson, what I like is that they looked at his tape," Zepeda said. "He only caught seven passes this past year, but they saw he is just an incredible blocker. When he was a sophomore, they considered him at offensive line, but he grew into a tight end. That he's become a good pass catcher and hasn't seen a lot of footballs, that indicates lots of upside."

Thus, Zepeda sees Swanson contributing to Stanford much in the same way he contributed to Katy. His blocking figures to be dominant, while his pass-catching will be largely dependent on the team's overall offensive philosophy.

"His strength will be blocking," Zepeda said. "That's what he's used to doing with how Katy runs their offense -- 70 percent runs and the tight ends basically go on streak patterns, if anything. … After that, with most players, especially at his size at tight end, how effective he'll be depends on what type of plays the schools use. Some schools make the tight end the fourth wide receiver, so if he goes down the middle, he has nice size and will be someone who will definitely draw players toward him and open the outside."

Thus, Zepeda concludes, how quickly Swanson reaches the field will ultimately depend upon exactly how Jim Harbaugh and the Card choose to use him.

"It goes back to his comfort level," Zepeda said. "He could go in and play as a blocker as a freshman, but to come in and catch passes depends on how he comes in and develops. He only has seven catches, while other tight ends have 20 or 30 catches."

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For his part, Swanson says he thinks his love of the game helped him stand out to Stanford's coaches.

"I love competing and beating the guy across from me on the line," said Swanson, who added the coaches liked that he hits with a straight back. "I know we run the ball at my school, and I didn't have to step up as a pass catcher that much, so something I took pride in was putting people on their back. The stat I really like, instead of yards or number of completions, is the number of decleaters. They're like pancake blocks. I had 54 of them on the year."

Because of his gridiron background, Swanson anticipates his adjustment to the college game might be easier than most.

"I'm real fortunate to go to a high school that's top level," he said. "We run some of the same stuff colleges run, and actually, I was watching [Stanford's] practice, and we practice the exact same way. Their schedule is the same as ours."

The similarities between football in Katy and on the Farm don't end with practice's final whistle, however. Swanson thinks he could fit in well in multiple positions in the Card's offense.

"They run the West Coast offense, the same offense we run at my high school," he said. "They have a tight end and a U back, which is kind of like an H back in motion or a fullback in motion, and I could play either of those positions. I could see myself as a blocker or a catcher."

While Swanson says he hopes to play his high school position of tight end at Stanford, he is well aware that his position is a rather popular one on Stanford's depth chart. Therefore, he says he remains open to playing anywhere that gets him on the field.

"If coaches feel I need to develop more physically," he said, "I'll do whatever the coaches want. … I'm not big enough to be an offensive lineman, and I know at a lot of other schools, people play both ways, but here we only can learn one position, so I've always played tight end."

So while Swanson may not be sure where he'll end up making an impact on the Farm, he is sure of one thing: he wants to leave Stanford a winner.

"I'm just so glad and so fortunate to get a chance to play for Stanford," he said. "And I hope once I get there and start playing, we just dominate. That's what I want to see: starting by winning the Pac-10 and then possibly a National Championship. I just can't wait to get there and play for these coaches. I'm so fired up: it's like a dream come true for me."

With Stanford's third verbal commit to the 2010 class, Calif. defensive end Eddie Plantaric, politely declining interviews at this time, The Bootleg's recruiting coverage now shifts solely to uncommitted recruits with Stanford high in their sights. As was the case last year, there are scores upon scores of such football players who might ultimately find themselves in Stanford's 2010 class, so be sure to keep following

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