Inside Texas stopped by Westlake High School to talk with Coach Derek Long about Longhorn signee Justin Tucker for the Recruiting Yearbook edition of Inside Texas Magazine -- as well as for the upcoming Inside The Class Series on InsideTexas.com. While there, IT had a chance to chat with Long about another talented Westlake player and one of the top prospects in the Class of 2009, Ryan Swope.
"He may be the best running back we've had," said Long.
At 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, Swope is a tough runner, but what's drawing all the attention to the Westlake running back is his blazing speed.
"I tell you, he's fast," said Long. "Here's a true story. We try to time our 40 times accurately. So after the season we went out to time these guys. The first time I time him, it's a 4.18. Now I go, 'Shoot, I must of missed it. We'll throw that out.' The next two times I say, 'I'm going to get this as slow as I can.' Both of them were 4.28s."
Long nearly did a double-take at his stop watch.
"I'm trying to make him slow," said Long. "We've had fast guys, guys that were burners, and I know that that's got to be an inaccurate time, but that is faster than we've timed anybody before. So from our perspective, he's the fastest that we've ever had."
He's also ran a fast time for the Texas coaches. A year ago, after Swope's sophomore season, he went to a Texas camp and ran a 4.39. Later in the year at a conditioning camp, he put up an even faster 4.32.
4.32, 4.28, 4.18...the point is, the kid is F-A-S-T.
Swope's speed has translated to track and field nicely, running a 10.5 in the 100 and a 21.7 in the 200, but it's also translated to results on the football field.
"Last year he had over 1300 yards rushing, almost 600 yards receiving and 22 touchdowns," said Long. "That's in 11 games on paper, but there are four games in which he only played one quarter."
One of those short outings was due to a shoulder tweak against Lake Travis, but the rest were because, thanks in large part to Swope, those games were already wrapped up.
"Against Bastrop, Seguin and Akins we were ahead 35-0 at the end of the first quarter," said Long. "And there are a few games he didn't play the fourth quarter. He's got some good stats, but they're not truly reflective of how he did."
Much more reflective is Swope's 9.2 yards per carry last season. But speed isn't everything Swope brings to the table. According to Long, Swope's big enough to play fullback, he's tall enough to play an outside receiver position, he's quick enough to play inside receiver and he's tough enough to play running back.
"With all these people (coaches) running the spread and the one-back, their biggest complaint is not having a guy who's big enough to block. He is 6-1, 197 now, maybe even over 6-1," said Long. "He's got the size to block. He's got the speed to pop it and go all the way. He's got the hands to catch it out of the backfield or you can put him in the slot and he'll catch the deep ball. Offensively he has a lot of dimensions."
Swope already holds offers from Texas Tech and Texas A&M and he'll be visiting UT on the 23rd for a Junior Day. While Long wouldn't go so far as to make a prediction on Swope's final destination, he did offer a recruiting axiom.
"Anybody that grows up in Austin, it's hard not to go to the University of Texas."