Swearinger immediately saw time on special teams and as a reserve upon signing with South Carolina, recording 19 tackles in 2009. He saw his first time with the starters as a sophomore, recording 66 tackles including two tackles for loss while splitting time between the free and strong safety positions. He also snared the first interception of his career, returning it 22 yards for a touchdown against Troy.
Swearinger enjoyed the best season of his career to date in 2011. He started the first two games at strong safety but was moved to free safety for the final 11 contests. Swearinger finished second on the team with 80 tackles and proved to be a bit of a ballhawk, recording three interceptions on the season, including one late against Mississippi State that helped the Gamecocks eke out a 14-12 win.
Voted a Second-Team All-SEC pick in 2012 while shuffling between free safety and cornerback, he finished second on the team with 79 tackles and again showed an ability to register turnovers, recording two interceptions, forced fumbles and recovered fumbles on the year.
Weaknesses: Too stiff to handle coverage of NFL slot receivers for long and projects best at safety. Tendency to grab hold as the route progresses, which will draw penalties in the NFL. Highly aggressive tackler who frequently targets the upper chest/head and has drawn several penalties for doing so over his career (Vanderbilt, Alabama-Birmingham, Arkansas, Clemson just in 2012), including being suspended for the Missouri game for a hit on a so-called defenseless receiver the game prior (UAB). Sat out the 2012 spring recovering from a foot injury that lingered from the 2011 season. Also appeared to be hampered late in the 2012 season, leading to some concern as to if he'll be able to hold up over an NFL season given his highly physical play.
Compares To: Louis Delmas, FS, Detroit Lions -- While not as fluid in coverage as the Lions' standout, Swearinger has shown similar versatility and reckless abandon. Considering that Delmas has missed a lot of football (16 games) over his four seasons in the NFL, that may not necessarily be a good thing.