LARAMIE – Titus Swen’s parents didn’t know much about the game of American football.
Futbol, yes. Track and field, definitely.
Helmets, pads and using your hands to catch an egg-shaped ball
were not exactly served with Sunday morning breakfast in the west Africa
country of Liberia.
“I’m the first football player in my family,” Swen said, referring to his parents, Christopher and Felicia. “My mom doesn’t like it because of the physicality. She loves me though, so she has to love the game. They are starting to understand it.”
Playing physical is not an issue for Swen. He may have a
baby face and the braces to match, but one of his teammates said it best – “he
has the body of a junior.”
He laughed, “I love the gym. Who doesn’t?
Swen came to America when he was just 4 years old. He doesn’t recall much about his home country, though he wears a golden necklace that resembles the shape of Africa.
Swen grew up in Texas. And we all know what football means there.
Wyoming’s newest running back made a name for himself in the
Dallas/ Ft. Worth area, slashing and smashing his way to being named one of the
top running backs in the Metroplex. Racking up nearly 3,500 yards on the ground
in just three-plus years will do that.
He has been described as explosive, strong and powerful. Swen
was a “bruising back” at Eaton High School, according to “Hook’em.com.
Standing 5-foot, 11-inches and 190 pounds, pass protection is another strength, according to Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl. He can also catch the ball.
During his senior season, Swen made the switch to wide
receiver. He had shown scouts what he could do in the backfield. He said the
move was to show off his “skill level.”
Early in the week, Swen was one of four true freshmen who earned a spot on the depth chart for Craig Bohl’s Cowboys. He is currently third behind Xazavian Valladay and Louisville transfer, Trey Smith.
Is he surprised to be in this position with Missouri coming
to town in nine days?
“I don’t really get shocked,” he said, flashing a metal
smile. “I just produce and do the best I can. If I didn’t make the team, I
would’ve just adjusted to my role and worked on my game. I just want to win.”
If there is any shock value to Swen’s story, it’s the fact
that he turned down two Power-5 schools – Kansas and Arizona State – to join the
UW football program. He also said thanks but no thanks to Mountain West foe,
San Diego State, and hometown school, SMU.
Swen was listed as No. 42 on the “2019 Fabulous 55” recruits in the state of Texas. He scored 44 touchdowns as an All-State tailback and was even named the 6A Co-Offensive MVP of the Year by PigskinPrep.com after his junior season. That’s the highest classification of football in the Lone Star State. There’s were more accolades, too.
So, where was Oklahoma, Texas, TCU? How about Baylor? Texas
Tech? Oklahoma State?
“I don’t even know. I aint even worried about them,” Swen
said Thursday afternoon after practice. “I’m in Wyoming now.”
To make things even wilder, Wyoming was late to the recruiting
party. Swen said Bohl and Co. were the last school to offer him.
“They did come in late,” he said. “I was surprised when they
Just as surprising, Swen said he picked Wyoming not for the
fancy buildings, the track record of players going pro, the team or the
coaches, per se.
“I like the small-town atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t like
big crowds or being distracted. I just wanted to go somewhere I felt at home
Senior linebacker Logan Wilson joked that he hasn’t met Swen in the “hole” yet. Practices these days don’t call for the brutal physicality they once did.
But Wilson doesn’t need to run head-on with the rookie to
know what he brings to the table.
“He’s a tough kid,” Wilson said. “For a freshman to come in
and do what he has done is unique. I think he’s done a good job. He is going to
Smith suffered a concussion in last Saturday’s team scrimmage. If the season were to start today, Swen would be the No. 2 guy in the Wyoming backfield rotation.
Bohl said he had that talk with Swen today.
“I told him, when you’re out there those guys are going to come after that rock,” Bohl said. “You think you’re ready for somebody to come and rip that ball away? You are playing against 22-year-old men. Titus, I think, has a great deal of strength and maturity. He can make plays and we feel good about where he’s at.”
Swen is shy and talks in a hushed voice.
But that doesn’t stop him from comparing his style of play to All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. He watches hours of film on the former OU and NFL standout. Heck, he watches a ton of film on everything.
He said he is just living up to his name – quite literally.
Titus was a Christian missionary and church leader in the New Testament of the Bible.
“He was a leader, so my parents put me in that position
right away,” he said with a grin. “I am always leading the pack, doing my own
I asked Swen what he wants Wyoming fans to know about him.
You might be surprised by the answer.
He didn’t boast about his speed, agility, high school awards
or what he will bring to the table this season. Instead, he offered this.
“Don’t be shy and come talk to me when you see me on the
street,” he said. “I’m really nice. I’m just quiet.”