After signing as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts on May 11, former Wolverine basketball star Erik Swoope ’10 will get his opportunity to play on an NFL team. Swoope had never played organized football before the Colts’ rookie minicamp last week.
The 6’5″, 220 pound Swoope, known for throwing down rim-shattering dunks at the University of Miami, has impressed Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano with his athleticism.
“He looks natural,” Pagano told the IndyStar. “We’ve had guys here before that couldn’t even get in a stance. He can get in a stance. He looks natural running routes. He’s obviously got great ball skills and hands. He doesn’t drop any balls. He’s got a high ceiling.”
In his senior year at Harvard-Westlake, Swoope averaged 21.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and was named to the California All-State Basketball Second Team. Swoope went on to play four years at Miami, where he averaged 5.0 points per game and 2.7 rebounds.
The basketball to football transition is not unique to Swoope. Swoope is following the blueprint of current Saints tight end Jimmy Graham who has become an All-Pro in the NFL after focusing primarily on basketball at Miami. Future NFL Hall of Famers Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez also made similar changes.
“It was mainly just the opportunity that pushed me towards the NFL, and it really came out of nowhere,” Swoope said. “At first I wasn’t really sure if it was legitimate or if it was just a joke. I was able to exchange numbers with the scout that was interested in me and found out that this wasn’t a laughing matter, so I ran a workout and things were very positive so I figured I should pursue the opportunity.”
Head of Athletics Terry Barnum feels optimistic about Swoope’s leap to football.
“I think [Swoope] is going to be great,” Barnum said. “He was an amazing athlete when he was here, he continues to be that. I would have loved to have seen him play football for Harvard-Westlake. I think he would have had a major impact.”