How T. Swift became the go-to trainer for Alabama high school football linemen

Jerell Rushin
The Tuscaloosa News

BIRMINGHAM – Terrence Swift had hopes for a football playing career in front of him. A second-year player at Alabama State, Swift started on the offensive line on opening day.

Those dreams virtually ended that Saturday.

Swift, who's nickname is T. Swift, suffered a Lisfranc joint injury in a foot and took a look in the mirror. He stopped pursuing an NFL career but not football.

A decade later, he's helping top defensive and offensive line high school recruits in Alabama work toward their own NFL dreams. Swift, founder and owner of WinningEdge, trains recruits out of Birmingham, a growing hotbed for college football programs across the country.

The metropolitan area is home to five top 125 recruits in the class of 2023, and three of them are defensive linemen.

Hewitt-Trussville's Hunter Osborne, the No. 112 recruit in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite, began seeing Swift in 2021 because his former teammate, Texas freshman defensive lineman Justice Finkley, learned for years under Swift.

Swift's training focuses on growth in all areas to translate on the field, primarily techniques, mental understanding of the positions, moves and countermoves, worth ethic, explosiveness, flexibility and hand combat.

Osborne is deciding among Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Clemson. He saw his work with Swift pay off in his junior season, when he earned an offer from one of his final four schools and finished with 60 tackles, 10 for loss, 5.5 sacks and 10 pass deflections.

"I didn't really have much in my arsenal as far as pass rush (before),” Osborne said. “I was pretty stiff in my hips. Working with him he's been helping me with that, and I've been a lot more comfortable in my body."

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Swift trains outside the box

Swift’s clients range from NFL players like former Alabama star Daron Payne, Auburn graduate TD Moultry and Shaka Toney, current Crimson Tide players such as Tim Keenan III and high school players with zero stars.

Jonathan Allen, a Jackson-Olin class of 2023 defensive lineman, was one of the latter. He entered the year with zero offers, a harsh reality ahead of his senior season.

Allen began working with Swift in January and now holds offers from several FCS and Group of Five programs and one Power Five school, Georgia Tech.

"The defensive linemen understand what the offensive line is going to do because I teach them both sides of the ball," Swift said. "That’s how it's different. So you know what’s going to happen before it happens, so we’re preparing them for it. It’s only so many moves an offensive lineman can do. It’s only so many moves a defensive lineman can do."

College programs saw clips of Allen in Swift's downtown Birmingham base on 3rd Street at Kevin Brown's Xtreme Fitness and Performance. Programs visited Allen on campus and saw that the improvement from his junior season was real. Scholarship offers followed.

June 28, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Coach T Swift works with offensive and defensive linemen at Xtreme Fitness and Performance in Birmingham. Swift directs Jared Smith and Jonathan Allen as the prepare to do a workout. Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

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Joshua Daniel, a Minor senior, has a similar experience. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive lineman committed in June to Arkansas State, which badly wanted Daniel to pledge after he impressed at their camp.

"All (Swift) told me to do is keep working, and I kept working, kept coming every day," Allen said. "When I got an offer he told me, 'The grind don’t stop. It’s just now starting.' I kept getting better and better, and now I have my choice of schools."

The why behind the linemen's success

These are full-circle moments for Swift.

After he graduated from Alabama State, Swift was a lineman coach at Jackson-Olin from 2014-2020. He noticed high school linemen weren't developed to their potential. He left coaching to help local talent prepare for the college level.

Other blue chip recruits Swift trains are 2023 Auburn commit Bradyn Joiner, 2024 offensive lineman Jac'Qawn McRoy, 2025 edge Jared Smith and 2025 defensive lineman Jourdin Crawford.

"It’s not me. I’m just giving them the tools," Swift said. "They’re putting the work in day-by-day, making it happen and making me look good. But it’s really them. I’m just telling them what to do. My job’s easy, but I’m pushing them hard. It’s hard for them right now, but it’s going to be easy later because the reward is going to be great from the work they put in.”

June 28, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Coach T Swift works with offensive and defensive linemen at Xtreme Fitness and Performance in Birmingham. Swift gives direction to Clay Chalkville High player Jacqawn McRoy. Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

The roots to Swift's training career

Swift got experience at every offensive line position except center in his career. While on Jackson-Olin's staff, he coached current Alabama lineman Quandarrius Robinson and Tennessee Tech defensive tackle Jacorrian Wrenn.

Robinson and Wrenn wanted extra work outside of school, so Swift forced them to think like offensive linemen during sessions.

"They started capitalizing off of it," Swift said. "So every time they come home, they want to work with me. Next thing you know I started getting more guys, then I started coming here with Kevin (Brown) and I got Justice Finkley. (Hoover grad and Appalachian State freshman defensive lineman). Markus Clark wanted to get work. It just started growing from there.

"My main goal was to train the best O-linemen around. Now my goal is to do O-line and D-line and make the best. I want all the (college) coaches to come to Birmingham, Alabama, knowing we got the best O-linemen and D-linemen and they're ready for the next level."

Jerell Rushin is a recruiting reporter for the Tuscaloosa News and the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at jrushin@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @JerellRushin_.