Jan. 14, 2004
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Western Carolina head football coach Kent Briggs announced the addition of four transfers - three from Division I-A programs, all of whom are currently enrolled in classes at the University, will participate in spring drills and be eligible for the 2004 season. The transfers include quarterback Bennett Swygert (Univ. of South Carolina), Aaron Kirkland (Univ. of Tennessee), O.J. Owens (Univ. of Tennessee) and Primus Glover (East Tennessee State Univ.).
"These additions to our program could really help us fill the voids left by our senior class left," Briggs said. "These are all quality football players. We are excited they will be here this spring so they can learn our system and work their way into the depth chart. These players like the direction of our program and the commitment the University has made to its facilities."
Swygert (Summerville, S.C./Summerville HS) was a redshirt freshman for the Gamecocks this past season, playing in six games. The 6-3, 224-pound quarterback, who will have three years of eligibility remaining, completed 11-of-21 passes for 160 yards with an interception and a touchdown. Versus eighth-ranked Georgia last season, he completed 4-of-5 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Against Clemson, he had season highs with six completions and 11 attempts for 31 yards with a touchdown and his lone interception. He added a six-yard rushing TD in a win over Virginia. Swygert, who was battling for significant playing time as a true freshman, missed that entire 2002 season after tearing his ACL during a preseason scrimmage. At Summerville HS, Swygert was considered the top quarterback prospect in the state despite tearing ligaments in his knee late in his senior year. He was selected to play in the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl after throwing for 1,232 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for 646 yards and five TDs, prior to the injury. As a junior, Swygert threw for 1,678 yards and 28 TDs, while rushing for 398 yards and three scores. An All-State and all-region pick, he played for John McKissick at Summerville, who is the nation's winningest high school football coach.
Kirkland (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt HS) sat out last season and will have three years of eligibility at Western. At 6-4, 250-pounds, he will start his career with the Catamounts as a defensive end. For the Vols, he was a tight end and played in 10 games as a true freshman, seeing most of his action on the special teams. Possessing good athleticism and speed, Kirkland also saw practice time in 2002 at fullback as well as tight end. In high school, he was named to All-American teams by PrepStar, Riddell Footwear, Borderwars.com and Max Emfinger. Kirkland was rated the No. 3 player in North Carolina by the Charlotte Observer and the No. 1 tight end in the Atlantic Region by PrepStar. An All-State selection as a senior, he was additionally named the state's top prospect by the Fayetteville Observer. Kirkland was named All-Midsouth Conference as a tight end and defensive end in 2000 and 2001. He caught 11 passes for 179 yards and five TDs, while recording 101 tackles as a senior. He played on both sides of the ball in the N.C.-S.C. Shrine Bowl and was a three-year starter on the Jack Britt HS basketball team.
Owens (New London, N.C./North Stanly HS) will have one year of eligibility remaining, playing in 18 games as a strong safety over his career at Tennessee. This past season, the 6-0, 205-pound defensive back played in eight games and had four tackles, all on special teams. He additionally had a blocked punt versus Mississippi State, which was recovered by the Vols on the MSU one and led to a Tennessee touchdown. Owens, who switched between linebacker and the defensive secondary through his career, battled injuries through his first three seasons at Tennessee. He redshirted in 2000, playing in three games before injuring his shoulder. In 2001, he played in seven contests, but had playing time limited due to off-season surgery on the injured shoulder from the previous season. In 2002, his sophomore season, he only played in three contests, which were the final three games of the year versus Kentucky, Vanderbilt and UT's bowl game versus Maryland. For his collegiate career, he tallied eight tackles with a blocked punt. Like Kirkland, Owens was an All-American selection in high school, making the prestigious Parade All-American team. Owens was additionally a two-time (1998 and '99) Class 2A All-State pick and a two-time Central Carolina's Conference Defensive Player of the Year at North Stanly HS. As a senior, he tallied 97 tackles with four interceptions, four caused fumbles and one fumble recovery. On offense that season, playing fullback, he rushed for 647 yards and 12 TDs. Owens also competed in track in the 100-meters and was an all-conference pick in basketball.
Glover (Springfield, Ga./Effingham County HS) will have two years of eligibility remaining, playing two seasons at ETSU. A 6-3, 190-pound safety, Glover ranked 12th on the Buccaneer team in tackles this past season with 30, adding two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He had five solo tackles versus SoCon Champion Wofford in 2003, a season-high six stops versus Tennessee-Martin and four tackles versus Western. Glover returned an interception 36 yards versus Concord and one 33 yards versus Chattanooga, both of which set up ESTU touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman in 2002, he played in 11 games and earned a starting assignment versus Elon, a game in which he recorded his first career interception. He tallied a season-high four tackles twice (N.C. State and VMI) and finished the season with 19 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups. At Effingham County HS, Glover was an All-State honorable mention selection as a linebacker. He was additionally tabbed the best defensive back in the county following his junior and senior seasons.