Height Not An Issue

West Virginia's latest verbal commitment might be a bit short of stature, but his high school coach stacks him up against any cornerback in the country.

"If he were two or three inches taller, he would be in everyone's top five in the country," Seabreeze High School head coach Marc Beach said of Jerome Swinton, who has committed to West Virginia. "If you talk to anyone who has seen his film, they will tell you there isn't a better defensive back film in the country."

Swinton, who stands somewhere between 5-7 and 5-9, has been hampered somewhat by the negative perceptions surrounding smaller cornerbacks. With more schools going after tall, rangy, wide receivers, the need for corners of similar stature has also sprouted – or at least been marked down as a necessity by many schools. Beach, however, points out that height isn't the be-all and end-all of cornerback play.

"Everyone wants those tall corners, but when you start getting guys that height, maybe they don't run as well – at least the majority of them. You have to have guys who can run, and Jerome can do that."

In addition to "being able to run with anyone", according to Beach, Swinton also has several other attributes that allow him to lock down bigger opponents.

"He has great feet and hips," said Beach, describing the #1 quality that coaches look for in a cornerback – one that allows for quick and smooth change of direction. "He is very strong, and he plays well at the line of scrimmage. He's very aggressive against wide receivers on the ball."

Although Swinton doesn't see a steady diet of bigger wideouts in his high school play, he has shown the ability to keep the ones he has faced from catching the ball. In two games against Mainland High School's Antonio Bell, Swinton allowed the Tennessee-bound receiver just one catch. He has also been very impressive in seven-on-seven camps against bigger wideouts.

Those abilities aren't the only ones that Swinton will bring to West Virginia in 2008. He is also an outstanding special teams player with a knack for blocking kicks. In the last two years, he has snuffed eight kicks, and thus is a regular on Seabreeze's special teams.

"He gets down on coverage really well, and we also have him running back kicks," said Beach of his star defender. "We spotted him in a little on offense last year at running back, too."

As if that weren't enough, Swinton also packs a punch with his 165 pounds. Uniformly described as a "big hitter" by all who have observed him, Swinton doesn't shy away from the action, and it didn't take him long to make an impression on his high school coaches.

"He moved into the starting lineup near the end of his ninth grade year, and he has been there ever since," Beach said. "He is a quiet kid – he's not going to get up in anyone's face or anything like that. But he works hard, and practice hard, and does what we ask of him."

Swinton, who had offers from Connecticut and Iowa State, also had interest from a number of other schools. Beach believes that more offers would have already been on the table if it weren't for the lemmings over the cliff perceptions concerning height.

"I guarantee his height is the only reason he didn't have more offers," he reiterated. "He can run with anybody, and he has the ability that everyone is looking for."

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