Wide receiver Freddie Swain can look back at his freshman season at Florida and take some positives.
The former North Marion High standout helped fill UF’s void at receiver as a true freshman in 2016. Swain finished with eight catches for 118 yards and two TDs before being slowed with shoulder problems.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Swain said. “A lot of freshmen don’t really get to play in every game. I can’t really complain. I’m just happy with what I did.”
After sitting out the spring due to undergoing shoulder surgery, Swain is back in preseason camp, eager to make an impression entering his sophomore year. Florida coach Jim McElwain said Swain is a “new guy” after going under the knife.
“He’s a tough guy,” McElwain said. “He played injured, obviously, for us to have to go in and clean it up, which we did. He really attacked his rehab and the guys down in the training room. He’s one of those guys who is kind of a model of what you do to get yourself back. He’s added some weight, which in turn has really helped him, even with his speed.”
McElwain said Swain’s competitive streak got him on the field as a true freshman. Swain’s first touchdown catch came against Kentucky in The Swamp, and his second was against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.
“He’s a guy who just loves to compete, number one,” McElwain said. “He’s not afraid of anything. But when the ball is in the air, he goes up and gets it. He attacks the ball aggressively. He’s got really good ball skills. And he’s going to be a big piece in what we do.”
Even after shoulder surgery, Swain said he was able to make some strength gains to his 6-foot frame during the offseason, which has carried over into camp.
“That’s transitioned very well,” Swain said, “I’m at about 200 pounds right now. I’m getting quicker, getting faster, I can get in and out of my breaks faster. I’m just getting smarter overall with the game of football.”
Swain said the competition in camp should help Florida’s receivers develop as well. While junior Antonio Callaway is Florida’s biggest playmaking threat, Swain and fellow sophomores Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond showed promise last season. Senior Brandon Powell and the return of redshirt junior Dre Massey from a torn ACL adds depth to UF’s receiving corps.
“Every day we just compete,” Swain said. “If somebody is having a bad day, somebody in the room will lift each other to get the competitiveness back to where it needs to be at.”
Playing college football close to home, Swain said, has its advantages. If Swain has a bad day at practice, for example, he can drive home to nearby Ocala to see his mom and family to cheer him up. On the flip side, Swain has to deal with extra ticket requests for home games. But Swain insists that’s not a distraction.
“I’m pretty focused,” Swain said. “I don’t let too much of that distract me. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway’s blog at Gatorsports.com.