Last September, when Freddie Swain caught the winning touchdown pass against Kentucky with only 43 seconds remaining, many were thinking this is it, the former four-star recruit’s breakout moment at Florida has finally arrived.
But that wasn’t it.
Because a breakout moment is supposed to be followed up by a breakout season, and that didn’t happen. Instead, Swain quietly disappeared for most of the rest of the season.
He had only seven receptions the rest of the way — and only one over the last four games.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the former North Marion standout.
“I can’t do nothing but deal with it,” he said. “That’s the cards I was dealt. I’ve got to play my hand.”
Swain apparently was dealt what amounts to a losing hand by the former coaching staff. The one Dan Mullen and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales are dealing him just might be filled with aces.
There is one thing he’s certain about: he feels like he’s a much better fit with this coaching staff in this offense.
“We’ve got better days ahead of us,” Swain said. “I love the way Coach Mullen, Coach G, just everybody (does things). I just love the energy around here and I’m excited to get back.
“I think (the offense) fits me well. I catch a couple deep balls in practice, I come across the middle, I catch them, I block. I think it shows my skills in a better way than in previous years, so I’m ready.”
Swain, who combined to catch only 16 passes in his first two seasons at UF, is also hungry.
Hungry to make plays. Even hungrier to win games coming off a 4-7 season.
“Come and play, long catches, short catches, just get the ball and showing people I can catch, I can run routes, I can block,” he said. “I just want to be an all-around receiver.
“And win. Win as a team. We can have 500 yards passing, you can have 1,000 yards running, just as long as we win and everybody’s on the same accord. I’m ready.”
Swain said he learned a lot this spring, not just from Gonzales, but also from Van Jefferson, the transfer from Ole Miss who is a proven wide receiver in the SEC. In the past two seasons with the Rebels, Jefferson combined to catch 91 passes for 999 yards and four touchdowns.
Many have viewed Jefferson as UF’s best wide receiver this spring.
“Real nice, real smooth,” Swain said of Jefferson. “There’s some things that he can do. I sit back and I watch how he does it. I take a little piece of whatever he did, I try to implement that in my game. He’s a good player, he’s a very smooth route runner and he’ll catch the ball.”