LARAMIE -- October of 2019. That’s the last time Titus Swen had played in a football game.
It was hard to tell Saturday.
Wyoming’s sophomore running back reminded his coaches, teammates and fans during the Cowboys’ spring game exactly what he’s capable of with the ball in his hands, showing little rust from his lengthy layoff. With UW’s top two running backs, Xazavian Valladay and Trey Smith, getting a limited workload (they combined for just 10 carries), it meant a larger one for Swen, though he didn’t need much of a sample size to impress.
Swen got six carries and caught one pass as the Brown team’s primary back. His final tally? 155 all-purpose yards. Or 22.1 yards per touch.
That included a 55-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, but Swen started dazzling much earlier than that. The 5-foot-11, 202-pounder turned in the game’s longest play from scrimmage during the first half when he helped his quarterback, Sean Chambers, make something out of nothing on a screen pass.
The defense snuffed it out, but Swen broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage before racing 71 yards to set up his offense’s second touchdown. Swen also shrugged off a couple of defenders before breaking free on his scoring run.
“I think all spring he’s been playing really hard and running the ball really hard,” Chambers said. “In our scrimmages, he runs hard. He’s a baller, and he’s going to be on full display this fall.”
Before Saturday, Swen’s last game-like action came all the way back on Oct. 12, 2019, in UW’s 26-22 loss at San Diego State. He missed the final seven games of that season with a knee injury before opting out of the 2020 season because of health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
A former three-star recruit out of Eaton High in Fort Worth, Texas, Swen was part of the backfield rotation as a freshman and averaged 5.2 yards per carry before his injury. He finished that ‘19 season as the Cowboys’ third-leading rusher.
“It was good to be back,” Swen said. “I haven’t been with my team in more than a year. They’ve come back to embrace me with all open arms. We got rolling (Saturday), and that’s the product y’all saw.”
Though Swen didn’t do it during the spring game, UW coach Craig Bohl said recently Swen could also be the leading candidate to return kickoffs next season. Swen said that’s a role he’s excited about, but his primary focus is becoming a more complete back after being out of action for so long.
While Saturday’s performance was impressive considering his circumstances, Swen said he’s nowhere close to satisfied.
“I’ve still got some improving to do, from my cuts, explosiveness, stiff-arm, catching the ball, pass protecting, all of that,” Swen said. “I still want to be the best back I can be.”
But it served as a reminder of what he’s capable of bringing to the table.
“Titus possesses some excellent skill, and you saw his explosiveness,” Bohl said. “There are things he has to do to become a complete back, but he’s an emerging back. And we’re certainly excited about this play out there.”
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.