Virginia redshirt freshman Zach Swanson switched positions late last week and will play fullback for at least the near future. Swanson previously had lined up at tight end.
The Cavaliers entered training camp with a log jam of sorts at tight end, with three veteran players – Colter Phillips, Paul Freedman and Jeremiah Mathis – who caught touchdown passes last season and two redshirt freshmen – Swanson and Jake McGee – who Coach Mike London said last December “are going to be all-star tight ends in this league before it’s over with.”
The move to fullback might allow Swanson a greater opportunity to see the playing field during games this fall, the player said Tuesday. Swanson said he’s been taking snaps at fullback behind fifth-year seniors Max Milien and Terence Fells-Danzer.
“I’m just starting off,” said Swanson, who is from Katy, Texas. “This will be my first year playing, so whatever I can do to get on the field or whatever they need me to do, I’ll do.”
Thus far, Swanson has gone through one scrimmage and a handful of practices at his new position, though an emphasis on blocking isn’t new to him. In high school, Swanson said, his team’s offense was run-based. Days before the state title game his senior year, Swanson was moved to offensive tackle.
He said he likes blocking, but not enough to want to do it on a full-time basis.
“I don’t think I could ever be an offensive lineman,” Swanson said. “I need a pass route or two to break it up. But I like blocking people. I’m not scared to hit somebody.”
During a practice late last week, the coaches asked Swanson to hop into a drill at fullback and liked what they saw. Afterward, they asked him to join the fullbacks from that point forward.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Swanson is taller than Milien (6-foot-0) and Fells-Danzer (6-foot-1) and weighs roughly the same the other fullbacks on Virginia’s roster. Swanson said the position switch won’t necessitate any concentrated weight change.
In fact, he’s not even sure how long this experiment will last.
Graduate assistant Gordie Sammis (who works with the offensive linemen and tight ends) “keeps saying, ‘It’s not for long,’” Swanson said. “I don’t know. I’m not even starting right now. I’m behind two fifth-years. I’m just learning how to play it.”