Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Most likely Freddie Swain.
This article originally appeared in Gator Bait Magazine, 9-28-19 edition. Subscribe today!
Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen has asked for an Alpha Dog. A guy that can stand up, make his voice heard and boldly lead the No. 9 Gators through what promises to be one of the toughest schedule stretches in college football during October, and beyond.
He asked for this back in the summer, again in fall camp and is looking for that one guy still a third of the way through the season.
The contenders have whittled down, but the Gator players know who will emerge: Freddie Swain.
The receiver from North Marion has steadily made his impact during his time in Gainesville. Now in his senior season, he’s earned the right to demand attention from his team. They give it to him, thanks to the respect that preceded.
“Freddie. I mean, he's just a guy, he always tells you, if you do something good, 'Good play, good play.' If you do something bad, he'll tell you, you know, you need to improve,” said an unprompted Feleipe Franks during fall ball.”
“I watch Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond like go at it like every day in like practice, in summer workouts,” says redshirt freshman quarterback Emory Jones.
“I mean like them guys I always gonna turn to when the pressure hits, I’m always gonna turn to those type of guys ‘cause I trust them, I see that they put the work in. Everything falls back to your work.”
And when asked to identify who those alpha dogs could be, it was Swain’s name who often arose.
“There are different types of Alpha Dogs,” explains Franks.
“There are people who talk and they go out there. And there’s lots of people who just do it with their actions. Like maybe Josh; he’s not very talkative, but he shows you with his actions. He does everything right. But there’s also more vocal guys like Freddie. Just different people on the team have different types of leadership.”
Safety Donovan Stiner agrees, “It’s really important, especially during games, especially when things aren’t going our way or we’re in a tough position or something. Guys are down or something. It takes those guys to pick the team back up, pick the energy back up. And I think there are a few guys on our team like that. I would say Feleipe Franks, Freddie Swain. David Reese is like that.”
It’s during those games, like Stiner mentions, that Swain has truly stepped forward to lead his team. After Franks was injured during the third quarter of the comeback win versus Kentucky, it was Swain the team looked to for guidance according to Hammond.
It mirrored a moment from halftime. Down 14-7 and with little momentum, Swain stepped to the front of the locker room and made sure the team was looking at him.
“Come out this second half bro, and pick your brothers up and let’s go. Them boys can’t play with us,” he told them. Following Franks injury and Swain’s second moment of leadership, the Gators rolled off 19 unanswered points to defeat the Wildcats.
It called back to Swain’s own explanation of what it takes to be an alpha dog.
“Just heart. Heart and passion for the game and to actually really love it. You got heart and passion and show the guys you really care, you can be an Alpha Dog.”
Following the performance against UT Martin, which the team described as lackluster all things considered, it was linebacker Jon Greenard and Swain who called a team wide meeting to remind the guys what it would take to reach their goals.
Swain is working on his individual goals for the season as well. He has eight receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns through four games along with being assigned kickoff and punt return duties.
Following the UT Martin weekend, Hammond described Swain’s game saying, “Freddie did a really good job on catching bubbles, getting open across the middle a couple times in some big critical moments when we needed it. So, just continuing to grow, continuing to prepare and continue to try to make plays for the offense in the future is what we’re trying to do.”
If you ask Freddie Swain, he’s not an Alpha Dog. He’s just trying to do what he can to help his team. But that’s the definition, isn’t it? For Swain, that can be debated however one wants. He’ll keep doing his thing and hope the guys around him learn something from his hard work.
“I wouldn’t really wanna say what I am but that’s great that guys think of me in that way. I just try to lead by example, try to do the right things on and off the field. So it’s kinda good that they’re taking things from me.”