Certain athletes are born with certain characteristics that set them apart from other players. Some are faster than most any other player, others stronger than most.
For former Greenwood High School and University of South Carolina Gamecock star D.J. Swearinger, a unique blend of hard work and confidence has defined him as a player throughout his career, earning him the nickname “Swag.” Following a four year career as a standout for the Gamecocks, the hard-hitting free safety has been invited to the 2013 NFL Draft Scouting Combine, to be held in Indianapolis, Ind., beginning Feb. 23.
“I was just born with that,” Swearinger said with a laugh. “Some people are born with certain things, and I was born with that confidence, that swagger on the field, and that’s where the nickname came from. Ever since little league, it’s been like that. I’ve always played with that confidence, that I can’t be defeated.”
While at South Carolina, the Greenwood native enjoyed a plethora of success, most notably as a senior where he built a reputation of being one of the hardest hitting defensive players in the country, racking up 79 tackles during the 2012 campaign. A Second Team All-SEC performer, Swearinger tallied two interceptions, including one he returned 69 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas. Breaking up a team-high seven passes, the former Greenwood High School All-State selection also racked up two fumble recoveries during his senior campaign as a Gamecock, including a 65 yard return for a touchdown.
Now given the opportunity to display his talents in front of NFL scouts, with hopes of being selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, Swearinger, who is the sixth ranked safety according to NFL.com, explained that taking the next step in his career is a dream come true.
“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” Swearinger said. “Going from working hard in high school, to college, and now have a childhood dream of playing in the NFL right in front of me, it’s a dream come true to be able to have the chance to just reach out and take it.”
Known for his hard-hitting style of play, Swearinger was penalized twice this year for helmet to helmet hits. His hit on a University of Alabama-Birmingham receiver garnered him a one-game suspension from the SEC league office. The hit in the Arkansas game preceded his interception return for a touchdown. As he makes the transition to the professional level, Swearinger explained that adjusting to the physical play will be essential in his maturation process as a player.
“I need to work on tackling lower,” Swearinger explained. “The NFL is big on helmet to helmet hits, and with me being penalized a couple times this past season for helmet to helmet hits, I know that I need to work on having a lower target, tackling lower.”
While Swearinger is unsure where his future in football will lead him, the ex-Gamecock filled with swagger on the field knows that one thing is for sure as he prepares for his professional career: he is ready to make an immediate impact for the team that selects him in the draft.
“Whoever drafts me is going to get a player that works hard,” Swearinger said. “They’ll get someone who is the first one there every day, and the last one to leave; someone who works as hard as they can every single day, someone who will make an impact from day one.”