Kansas University backup quarterback Jason Swanson might have been used to success in every level of football except Division One.
That is until Saturday night.
In front of a sell-out crowd of 50,152 at Memorial Stadium and playing in his most predominant role since joining the Jayhawks in January, the 6-foot, 190-pound junior-college transfer from San Diego rallied KU with an amazing fourth-quarter touchdown that helped Kansas snap its 11-year slide against rival Kansas State with a 31-28 victory in the Sunflower Showdown.
"It's a great feeling, nothing like in the world to see the fans come down and rush the field," said a smiling Swanson.
But it was Swanson's tight spiral and a spectacular one-handed, 31-yard touchdown snag by junior Mark Simmons that gave Kansas the lead for good at 24-21 with 5 1/2 minutes left.
"Mark gave the defender a really good move off the line, and I knew they were coming with some sort of blitz, so I just threw it out there hoping he would come down with a great play, and he did," Swanson said.
But it was Simmons who praised Swanson for his "special" play and leadership -- especially bouncing back after getting blind-sided by K-State defender Scott Edmunds, who forced Swanson to fumble early in the fourth.
"He's never gotten down as the backup quarterback. He knew that Adam was the starter, and he accepted his role," Simmons said. "And when he got his shot, he came through. My hat's off to Jason."
So, too, is KU coach Mark Mangino's.
"Swanson did a great job in relief tonight," Mangino said of Swanson, whom he told to be ready at halftime in case starter Adam Barmann continued to struggle.
And what a far cry his 4-for-7 effort for 52 yards and a score was from the four interceptions he tossed six months ago in KU's spring game.
"He hadn't really had much going for him as far as playing much," senior receiver Brandon Rideau said of Swanson, who also struggled at times during two-a-days. "But I was glad to see that when he stepped on the field he was able to capitalize. I think this is going to build Jason's confidence up a lot."
Which could even lead to him seeing more playing time, or perhaps even becoming the starter.
After all, it was Swanson's standout numbers -- 3,652 passing yards and 27 touchdowns -- in two seasons at City College of San Francisco that helped him earn a Jayhawk scholarship.
But Swanson said he was pleased with whatever role he would have in the future, especially because he knew he played a special part Saturday night.
"If I go back to being the backup, it won't bother me at all," Swanson said. "That's my role, and I'll have to again be ready to come in case something happens like it did tonight."