UF’s Swain feels better about role, ready for productive season

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Florida receiver Freddie Swain runs with the ball after making a catch during a practice last month. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

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.”

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. Every player on the team has a tricky path. Both what they can control but worse with what they cannot control..I guess we all do in this world. I hope some things fall together for these kids and Mr. Swain doubly.

  2. The MAC coaches have been thoroughly trashed by the players. It is unbelievable anyone thought MAC should get another year. While DM still has to prove his ability on the field and in recruiting, I will be surprised and disappointed if he does not turn the program around. He is a hell of a lot easier to listen to.

    • It drove me MAD the way he would use the phrase “and yet” incorrectly every single time. “And yet” is meant to relate two contradicting phrases. Like, “I haven’t eaten all day and yet I’m not hungry”.

      Captain Yellow Teeth always said something stupid like “Felipe did some good things today and yet, he didn’t play bad”. It was like he was incapable of speaking in complete sentences that made sense. God I’m glad I don’t have to listen to that incomprehensible garble anymore.

      Go Gators!

  3. Every time I read a new article about a position group or skill player saying they are much happier, stronger and feel more involved and better used, I shake my head at why we had MacElTeeth so long. I really don’t understand. He fooled all of us for way too long.

    I am so glad to see Mullen in there actually coaching, and if you can believe it, that was not being done the last 4 years or so. Again, so strange, but anyway, forward and upwards. Go Gators!

    • Uhhhh – I think there were quite a few of us not fooled for a second. An offensive wizard does not have his offense rank in the 100s every year. From the very beginning – Mr. Neat/Cool was awful to listen to. The SEC East titles were frauds. The only true mystery was how Georgia lost to him two years in a row.

      • Sec East titles for them years mean nothing.. We were pond scum and were lucky there was more pond scum just below us.. I like this coaching staff much better than the last, but no longer is the east a gimmy, the way Georgia is playing and recruiting, I wouldn’t be surprised if they own the Sec East and the rest of the SEC for the next 4 or 5 years. I don’t think we will have a chance against them much less the rest of the Sec the way they are loading up with 5* talent lately.. That being said, we should still be able to win the rest of the east still..

        • I don’t know, Micah….I think the East undergoes a relative trajectory change, aside from just Georgia, for about the next 3 years. In 3 years, in other words, Georgia will still be mighty good, but so will Florida, UT, Mizzou, and maybe even South Carolina. I could be wrong, of course, but this is the way I’m reading the tea leaves so far……

        • I’m not ready to concede the East to UGA. Yes, they are recruiting at a high level and yes they had a great season. But I don’t for one second think Kirby is at any higher level than Dan Mullen. I expect this season to be a tough year for the Gators as it’ll take time to build this program after what’s happened the last 8 years. But I see the Gators getting back in the mix in 2-3 years.
          UT looks to be on a better trajectory with Coach Pruitt and I see good things happening at SC, KY, and Mizzou. So the east will get stronger…but I don’t see it as UGA and everyone else…maybe this year….maybe not.

  4. I hope the offensive line plays a lot better or it will be more of the same this year. It is hard for the QB to throw when he is constantly under pressure and getting sacked 6-8 time a game and if he can’t throw it they can’t catch it. The offensive line did not look good to me in the spring game. I hope that is just a reflection of how good our defense will be. It all starts with the big boys up front. If they can’t block the passing game is not going to be much better.

    • And that IS the big mystery, Rob, upon which the offense depends. I couldn’t really tell in the spring game because it was, after all, the spring game. But I thought something was in the “air” up there, just hope it’s not wishful thinking.

  5. Havent heard much on Jacob Copeland, the 4☆ WR/Percy position guy outta Pensacola, Fl. Any news on how his spring has gone? Are they gonna try him at Corner or the Percy?

  6. Wow. You know, it’s so easy to become accustomed to all-ego, all-talk young men in college football. Swain could be one of those guys who could have an attitude and expect opportunities to be given to him. Not only is he not doing that, but he is humble and smart enough to recognize that he can improve by watching someone like Van Jefferson, someone who is his stiffest competition for catches. If all of the players are equally smart and learn from everyone around them with the single-minded goal of improving their ability to contribute, I’m optimistic about the future. Among the many things this team lacked in the previous regime was maturity. It feels like that is changing.

  7. It troubles me that one of our “highly touted recruits” under Macelwain has to learn from an Ole Miss transfer. Either it is clear the previous staff didn’t know how to recruit or didn’t know how to coach. I believe both are true. The current staff certainly looks to be straight forward, high expectations, no slack, and teaching intensity as well as physical toughness. I agree that maturity and football smarts have been lacking. Glad Mullen is coaching.

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