RENTON, Wash. -- Tyrone Swoopes has no interest in trying to mask the difficulty involved with his transition from college quarterback to NFL tight end.
Asked if he's ever played tight end before at any level, Swoopes said, "Never in my life."
What about special teams?
"Never played special teams either," he said. "All of this that I’m doing is new. This is my first time doing it. But I’m willing to learn and do anything I can to get on the field."
Swoopes (6-foot-4, 247 pounds) was a four-star quarterback recruit at Texas. He completed 56.3 percent of his passes and threw 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions during his four seasons with the Longhorns.
His career as a college quarterback never quite got on track, but Swoopes found a role in Texas' "18-wheeler" package, carrying the ball successfully in short-yardage situations. Swoopes ran for 24 touchdowns at Texas, including 19 in the past two seasons. In 2015, he totaled 451 rushing yards and averaged 6.1 YPC.
Now he's trying to make the Seahawks' roster as a tight end. Swoopes ran 4.65 at Texas' pro day, and Seattle added him as one of its eight undrafted free agents.
"He caught a couple of great balls today," coach Pete Carroll said after the first day of the Seahawks' rookie camp. "He looked real natural. He’s obviously a great athlete. He caught a terrific pass in the walk-through today, then had a couple of really nice catches out here that show he’s got athletic ability to have a chance.
"We’ll just see how it goes and see how far he can take it. He has been playing a lot of quarterback, so we’re not quite sure how he’s going to block anybody, but he’s willing. He’s a big body and a very talented athlete. That jumped out today."
The Seahawks have six tight ends on their 90-man roster, and three are locks to make the team: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson and Nick Vannett. But Seattle has kept four tight ends in the past, and if the coaches like Swoopes' upside, he could have a chance. Graham and Willson are free agents after 2017. The practice squad could also be an option for Swoopes.
"When I signed, my agent, we talked about it and came to the decision it’d be best to use my athleticism on special teams and be able to make plays and block," Swoopes said. "So we just came to the decision that this was my best chance to get an opportunity at the next level."
Swoopes said he started watching film of Willson and Graham and how they operate in the Seahawks' offense. Blocking is entirely new to him.
He needs to show he can catch, but Swoopes said his background as a quarterback should help him as a route runner.
"Just reading coverages," he said. "Most people don’t get that that’s a huge part of playing quarterback and running routes. Just recognizing zone or man and things like that. So I think that helps a lot."
At one point last year, the Seahawks had 24 undrafted free agents on their roster. They have a history of giving guys with unique athletic traits opportunities. Swoopes is a long shot, but this summer he will try to become their latest success story.