When D.J. Swearinger’s dream came true, he was playing Subway Surfers on his smart phone.
“I was on my other phone playing a game, and I happened to look up and they were calling my other phone. As soon as I saw the Texans’ number, I was like, ‘Oh, man,’ ” the former South Carolina safety said. “It was a relief.”
Houston selected Swearinger in the second round of Friday’s NFL draft with the No. 57 overall pick. When he gets there, he will join his boyhood idol Ed Reed, the longtime Baltimore Ravens safety who joined the Texans in the offseason.
“It’s like a dream come true, play with my idol, somebody I looked up, still watch to this day,” Swearinger said. “To be able to learn from him these next couple years and feed off him is going to be great.”
Gamecocks T.J. Gurley and Jordan Diggs were among a crowd of around 100 people packed into a ballroom at the Columbia Marriott for Swearinger’s draft party. While biding his time for two hours, Swearinger snacked and played games on his phone. When the call came in, Swearinger sat beaming between his parents, Robert and Orma Swearinger. After 20 minutes worth of phone calls to Houston, Swearinger stood and roared.
“It was just, my dream, my goal, it’s here, and I let out a big scream of joy and happiness. I am ready to play,” he said. The Texans “called me last week and the guy that called me was very enthusiastic. I was telling a lot of people that I thought the Texans might take me.”
Swearinger also will join former rival DeAndre Hopkins, the ex-Clemson Tigers wide receiver who was selected by the Texans in Thursday’s first round. Former Greenwood High teammate and LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery also was chosen by the Texans late in the third round.
Swearinger played in 52 games at South Carolina, starting 33 and finishing with 244 tackles, six interceptions, 16 pass breakups and four forced fumbles. Coach Steve Spurrier introduced him as “maybe the best safety” to play at South Carolina at halftime of the team’s spring game. He is the first Gamecocks safety to be taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft since Brad Edwards in 1988.
In Swearinger, the Texans believe they have a player in the mold of Reed.
“He’s a big hitter,” Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told HoustonTexans.com. “He’s a tough, physical player, but he has good range. He can play free safety – he’s got great range overlapping – or he can play strong safety and get in the box. He can cover a slot guy if you need him to. He’s very versatile that way. He’s smart, tough, aggressive, all the things you’re looking for.”
Swearinger had hopes of being drafted in Thursday night’s first round but was not one of the three safeties taken in the initial 32. The New Orleans Saints selected Texas’ Kenny Vaccarro with the No. 15 pick; the San Francisco 49ers took LSU’s Eric Reid with the No. 18 pick, and the Baltimore Ravens took Florida’s Matt Elam with the No. 32 pick.
“#SAINTS #49ERS #RAVENS gone HATE ME FOR THE NEXT 10 years......PLEASE BELIEVE!!!!!!!” Swearinger posted on his Twitter account Friday morning.
The Jacksonville Jaguars opened Friday’s second round be selecting Florida International safety John Cyprien, making Swearinger the fifth safety taken this year.
Rounds four through seven of the draft will be held Saturday, and former Gamecocks Marcus Lattimore, Devin Taylor, Ace Sanders, T.J. Johnson and DeVonte Holloman expect to hear their names called.
Raw video: D.J. Swearinger drafted by Texans
Video: Swearinger on being drafted