Name: Zach Swanson
Hometown: Katy, TX
ESPN: 77, #22 TE
Rivals: 5.5, three stars
Scout: three stars, #28 TE
Guess Mike London hasn't made a complete and total break from the Al Groh years after all: we're still recruiting big honking tight ends. This one's six-foot-six, or, as they go on the UVA roster, "about average."
Actually, Zach Swanson sort of fell into Virginia's lap. For a very long time, he was a Stanford commit, which changed when Stanford basically decommitted him by telling him he'd have to greyshirt. (This is generally how coaches go about shedding unwanted recruits. Stanford picked up a higher-rated tight end in November - you wonder if that had anything to do with anything.) Once he was on the outs at Stanford, Swanson naturally found himself scrambling a bit, and fired off his contact info to a bunch of schools, UVA included.
So here he is, and good thing, too, because we're way too thin at tight end to be using a whole lot of two-tight end sets, if we ever want to. This isn't just picking off some other school's sloppy seconds, either. Swanson continued to get offers long after his Stanford commitment. It helps that he played at Katy, one of the top programs in the top division in the top state for high school football. You're kinda visible there. Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Cal all came knocking as late as two months after Swanson's verbal to Stanford.
It's generally agreed by the scouting services that Swanson's strength is blocking, and that his weakness is speed and elusiveness. Whatever, he's a frigging tight end, he's not gonna run any fly patterns against cornerbacks. Swanson's blocking is good enough that he was moved to tackle for the state championship game. Katy is a team that runs the football - like, on 70 percent of their plays - and they did it extremely well thanks in part to Swanson's blocking. They're the kind of team that runs up 490 yards on offense with 426 of them on the ground, which is nice but that link is there more so you can see a picture of Swanson trucking some poor fool who made the mistake of trying to tackle him.
Swanson has as good a chance as anyone in this recruiting class to jump straight onto the field from Day 1. The main thing that might hold him back is his size, as 225 pounds is pretty slim for a college tight end. But if he can even add just 10 pounds or so by September, and proves to be as adept a blocker as the scouts say, he'll probably get playing time. He's just the kind of player we'll need if Bill Lazor's promise of a physical, powerhouse rushing game is to come to fruition. Plus, we have all of three scholarship tight ends on the roster, and none of them are so good as to automatically preclude any competition. Joe Torchia's blocking is not real brilliant and Colter Phillips did not at all distinguish himself last year. Swanson's coming into a terrific situation from a playing-time standpoint, and I expect him to be one of Mike London's most solid building blocks for the next couple years as he tries to get this program on its feet again.