FishDuck.com sports reporter Jordan Ingram was at Monday’s Duck scrimmage and caught up with Jimmie Swain.
Oregon’s linebacker position is stacked.
While veteran seniors Rodney Hardrick and Joe Walker will most likely start at the inside linebacker positions, Jimmie Swain is working to make an impression during spring football practices and scrimmages.
“By the end of spring, I just want all the coaches to know that I’m prepared to play,” the sophomore said, “I’m ready to have a more leading role on the defense.”
The Kansas native was highly touted out of high school, receiving interest from top schools such as Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Michigan State. After committing to the Oregon Ducks, FishDuck.com remarked in a scouting report that the 4-star recruit was a “physical, aggressive linebacker who’s seriously underrated by the services and a great fit for Oregon’s emphasis on athleticism and speed.”
In the 2014-15 season, the true freshman managed to record 11 tackles in 9 games. Despite limited time, Swain was excited to be able to make an immediate contribution.
“[Last year was] definitely quite a bit of a learning curve,” recalls Swain, “but at the end of the year, I think I was in a pretty good position.”
The 6-3, 235 lb. Swain relied heavily on his explosive athleticism to stand out, recording a 37” vertical and running a 4.51, 40. With some experience under his belt, Swain is focusing on expanding his game apart from physical ability.
“Now [coaches] expect a lot more mentally out of you,” Swain explains, “It’s different in that way. It’s more of a mental game for me now, [when before] it was just running around hitting people.”
With the departure of graduate inside linebacker Derrick Malone, Duck fans should expect Swain to contribute more on the field this fall. After Monday’s scrimmage, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich commented on Swain’s work ethic during spring practices.
“He’s practicing a lot harder, just knowing what’s going on,” the third-year head man remarked, “That lets a guy like [him], who was a newcomer last year wading through everything, just play. That’s the step for all those young guys that they need to get to.”
With strong remarks from Helfrich, it’s hard not to be excited at the prospect of a larger role for Swain. As Oregon’s defense looks to improve for the upcoming 2015-16 season, the athletic Swain will certainly be one to keep an eye on.
Top Photo by: Kevin Cline