GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Freddie Swain’s exit from The Opening was much different than his entry.
Despite holding more than 20 offers at the time, Swain wasn’t a big-name recruit last summer when he arrived at Nike world headquarters in Beaverton (Ore.) for The Opening, an annual combine for the nation’s top recruits.
“When I first got up there, everyone was doing interviews as we came in,” Swain said. “I had only one person speak to me. The other players talked to multiple reporters. I was like, ‘OK, I see what kind of party this is. Let me do my thing.’”
The 6-foot, 177-pounder from Citra (Fla.) North Marion had earned MVP honors at The Opening regional in Atlanta, where he clocked a 4.75 in the 40-yard dash. Swain switched gears in Oregon.
“I went out there and dropped a 4.54, fastest I ever ran,” Swain said. “I told myself, ‘Boy, it’s on now.’
“I had a chip on my shoulder. The rankings don’t really matter, but they had me way at the bottom. When comes down to it, you’re not better than me. I had to show it that week.”
Over the next three days, Swain outperformed more than two dozen elite receivers, including the other five from Florida (Sam Bruce, Nate Craig-Myers, Darnell Salomon, Eli Stove and Binjimen Victor).
At the event’s conclusion, Swain was a named to the Offensive All-Tournament Team with fellow Florida signee Tyrie Cleveland and Auburn’s Kyle Davis.
After the award ceremony, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas tracked down Swain and had a message for him.
“I was walking to the bathroom,” Swain said, “and he stopped me in the hallway. He told me, ‘Look man, keep balling. You’re the truth.’ When I got stamped by him, I knew it was getting real.”
Swain made several scouts believers as well. Veteran recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg wrote that Swain was “hands down … the best and most consistent player from the Sunshine State.”
Swain’s recruitment picked up heavily following his week in Oregon.
“Everybody started hitting me up,” Swain said. “I got an offer from LSU. Florida State had never wrote me or did anything, and they wanted me to come up for a visit. I wasn’t feeling that because they had been sleeping on me like everyone else.”
Swain said Florida, Miami and Tennessee were the schools that had recruited him consistently. He also considered Alabama and Southern Cal.
In the end, Swain chose the Gators and enrolled at UF last month.
“There’s no better place,” he said. “It’s close to home, and the opportunity is there. The receiver position needs help, but I don’t want anything given me. I just gotta show up and show out.”