2013 Virginia Football Roster Profile: Zachary Swanson

USA TODAY Sports

Things are starting to get interesting with our countdown, as we've passed most of the linemen and we're moving onto more skill position guys. That begins today with TE Zach Swanson. Swanson is #49, in part due to his move from TE to FB. He's back to TE now, but will likely still spend time lined up in the backfield. Its his versatility and his blocking that are going to get him on the field, as he's compete with Jake McGee at Tight End.

Position: TE
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 255
Hometown: Katy, Tx
High School: Katy HS

Like a lot of UVA TEs over the past decade, Swanson came into a program that had a lot of TE talent ahead of him. With offers from Stanford, Miami, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Cal, Swanson probably assumed he could come right in and compete for playing time.

Swanson was a 3 star recruit from Texas. He was rated the #22 TE in the nation by ESPN and #28 by Scout. His problem was that, at just 217 pounds, he wasn't ready to play TE at this level. Perhaps, then, it was best that he came into a program with Joe Torchia, Colter Phillips, Paul Freedman and a handful of others. He came in with a reputation as a very good blocker, something that would be even harder to do at his weight than receiving.

Swanson has added over 40 pounds to his frame. He's now up to 255 pounds and has begun to show signs of the blocker we hoped he could be. Due to positional scarcity, Swanson was moved to FB during the 2011 season. He appeared in every game during that season, seeing time mostly on special teams but getting some plays as a blocker in the backfield.

Last season, he spent the entire year at FB and started 3 times. Behind a struggling OL, he became an important part of the ground game, and he also finished with 8 catches for 88 yards and a TD.

Entering this season, Swanson is fighting for playing time with Mackey Award nominee Jake McGee. McGee is, by far, the more explosive player. But Swanson is a bigger guy, a better blocker, and a solid receiver as well. McGee will get the highlights (one-handed catches, leaping catches, etc) and the fanfare, but Swanson's blocking in the run game may have a bigger impact on the team's overall success.

Swanson may also continue to see time in the backfield, either as a true fullback or as an H-back. Some of that will depend on the play of new FB Vincent Croce, and some of it will depend on the development of the OL. If the OL needs help, Swanson is likely to spend most plays as an in-line blocker. If the OL is able to hold their own, Swanson's versatility will allow the staff to move him around, and perhaps free him up for a big play out of the backfield.

Just a junior, Swanson (and McGee) are poised for some big seasons over the next 2 years.

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