Competition helping Swoboda push to unlock potential

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Listed at 6-10, offensive tackle Ryan Swoboda has a good three inches on anyone else on the Virginia football roster. His college career has been long on potential since he first arrived at UVA from a Florida high school two years ago.

"He's naturally very gifted, as you can see with him being 6-10, 300 pounds plus. Long arms," said fellow third-year offensive tackle Ryan Nelson. "He puts his hands on you, it's over."

Heading into his redshirt sophomore season, Swoboda is poised to turn his potential into production. He's competing for one of the tackle spots on the Wahoos' first-team offense. And Swoboda says he's pushing -- and being pushed -- to win a starting job.

"Very motivated," Swoboda said. "All the tackles -- Derek (Devine), Bobby (Haskins), Nelson, Ja'Quay (Hubbard) -- they're all working so hard, so I think that's elevating the whole position. I think competition, everybody needs to get better, right?"

"And then also, you get to learn stuff from the other guys on scholarship, and you get to teach as well," Swoboda added. "And just talking to each other and learning from each other, everybody gets better."

Swoboda didn't start playing football until his sophomore year of high school. After redshirting in 2017, Swoboda appeared in all 13 of UVA's games last fall -- seeing time at both tackle spots and on special teams, and even making his first college start at Ohio, as a tight end.

Swoboda says he's gained about 10 pounds since first arriving at UVA, but his body composition has changed after adding muscle and losing about 9 percent body fat. According to Nelson, Swoboda's improving footwork could be key to unlocking his potential.

"So telling him and helping him get his feet right first, because feet lead to everything. If your body follows your feet, you can do everything you need to do," Nelson said. "Add those arms in, everything's going to go really well for him. So it's going to be amazing watching that kid play."

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