Lighthall: The True Definition of a Rookie
The most amazing story to come out of this weekend’s NFL Draft wasn’t Johnny Manziel or Michael Sam or Jadeveon Clowney. In fact, it wasn’t even a player that was drafted. It’s the incredible story of Miami Hurricanes 6’-5”, 220 lb. basketball player Eric Swoope, who was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent.
There have been basketball players that have made the transition to the football field before. Future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez helped lead his Cal Golden Bears to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates took his 2002 Kent State team (coached by Stan Heath) to the Elite Eight. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham played four years of hoops at Miami (including two trips to the NCAA Tournament) before he played football and ended up as a third-round draft pick. New Packers defensive end Julius Peppers was a key reserve for North Carolina’s Final Four team. Julius Thomas, Martellus Bennett, Terrell Owens, Connor Barwin and even Bucs wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Northern Colorado) were also college hoops standouts.
But Eric Swoope’s story is different. While all of those guys were dual-sport athletes in college, Swoope has never put on a pair of shoulder pads. Ever.
He never played high school football. He never even played youth football. His first-ever taste of football will come at the highest level … the NFL.
After an up-and-down four-year career with the Miami Hurricanes as a power forward, Swoope was hoping to make some money playing ball overseas. Until the Denver Broncos called – completely out of the blue – to see if he had ever given football a thought. They liked his athleticism and his smarts (he was a former ACC All-Academic team member).
You want to talk about a game-changer? One single voicemail could change his life forever.
Fast forward: Swoope was intrigued. He started adding bulk. He began learning the game from scratch. He picked the brains of the athletes that have done this before him. The Broncos worked him out. Other teams saw raw potential. And finally he signed with the Colts.
Is he a tight end? Is he a wide receiver? Will he land on defense? The Colts don’t really know. Heck, Swoope’s doesn’t know either. Then again, why would he? All of this is new to him.