Please note: I didn't write this. It comes from the IndyStar website, and was written by Mike Chappell, a fantastic Colts writer. But considering the amazing lack of actual football articles, I thought I'd paste it here. (I hope he doesn't mind)
Erik Swoope's first taste of organized football came at Colts' rookie minicamp
Erik Swoope's lack of football experience as he attempts to transition from University of Miami power forward to Indianapolis Colts tight end has been exaggerated.
He has, well, some.
"Like two-hand touch," Swoope said with a smile.
He paused, then added the necessary context.
"But never anything very serious or actually competitive," Swoope said.
Not at The U. Not at Harvard-Westlake High School in Southern California. Not even at the Pop Warner level, where he was considered too big to compete with the other youngsters.
This weekend, though, Swoope looked right at home in the Colts' locker room as he went through the team's three-day rookie minicamp. He's 6-5 and in the 235-pound range.
"He looks natural," coach Chuck Pagano said. "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.
"We have evidence out there of guys who have done the same thing, made the same transition and ended up being pretty good football players. Excited to see where he's going. He's got a high ceiling."
And let's not forget Marcus Pollard.
"I heard about him and been doing a little bit of research," Swoope said. "I notice (the media) doesn't talk about him, but he's the same story."
The Colts noticed Pollard's athleticism as a power forward at Bradley University in the mid-1990s. But unlike Swoope, Pollard had a football background as a tight end/linebacker at Valley (Ala.) High School.
The Colts brought him in for a tryout, signed him and gave him time to develop.
The end result: Pollard's NFL career spanned 14 seasons, the first 10 with the Colts. Among tight ends in club history, he ranks No.3 with 263 receptions and No.4 with 3,391 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Despite Pollard's eventual productivity, his development was gradual. He appeared in eight games with no receptions as a rookie, and had just 16 catches in his first three seasons.
Swoope expects his football graph to show similar growth.
"I understand I'm a project and I plan on being patient with myself and try to do my best," he said.
Change of plans
The immediate future had been plotted. After finishing his senior season at Miami, Swoope's basketball career would continue overseas. An opportunity awaited in Luxembourg.
"I was looking forward to it," said Swoope, who averaged 9.7 points and 4.4 rebounds while starting his final 10 games as a senior.
Everything changed late in the 2013-14 basketball season when an area scout with the Denver Broncos contacted Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga, who insisted any interaction with his starting forward be delayed until the season was over.
Eventually, Swoope showed off his athleticism to the scout in the weight room.
"(The scout) really liked what he saw," Larrañaga said. "That information got out there, and all of a sudden there was a lot of interest. I was almost expecting him to get drafted.''
Swoope's time in the 40-yard dash routinely was in the low 4.6s. He had a 35-inch vertical jump, which would have ranked No.2 among tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine. He bench pressed 365 pounds.
"I've been coaching 43 years and that's the most any player I've coached has ever benched," Larrañaga said. "A gifted athlete."
The Colts sent national scout Matt Terpening to Miami to see for themselves.
"Matt played college basketball, knew the guy's game on the court and was around here with Marcus Pollard, so it made sense," General Manager Ryan Grigson said.
The Miami connections of tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts, a member of two Hurricanes national championship football teams, and Rob Chudzinski, a former player and coach at the school, enhanced the gathering of information.
"We wanted to see if he even looked like a suspect, let alone an actual prospect at his workout," Grigson said. "I was skeptical but after the information poured in, it was easy to warm up to the idea of giving him a shot."
Swoope accelerated his workout regimen, including practices with Graham and former Hurricanes standout linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Graham worked with Swoope on running routes. Vilma schooled him on what to expect from a defense as he ran those routes.
"It was awesome," Swoope said. "It was basically a walk-through, but just hearing that and seeing that and just starting rookie minicamp ... I was like, 'OK, now I see what he was talking about. Now this is making sense.'"
There's every reason to believe Swoope's initial NFL experience will mirror that of Daniel Adongo, the world-class rugby player who spent the 2013 season on the practice squad. The one-year stint pays $107,100.
At the very least, the rookie minicamp wasn't too big for Swoope.
"Exceeded our expectations way beyond anything that you'd ever imagine for a guy that never played," Pagano said. "If he continues to work — he's a bright guy, he's smart, he picks things up, he looks like he's got great passion for this — who knows?"
Swoope quickly has warmed to playing in cleats; it gives him more control of his feet while on the field. He's had no issues catching the ball; it's akin to snatching a lob pass around the rim.
What's missing, though, is adjusting to the inevitable collisions on the playing field. Offseason practices are non-contact. He was an aggressive player at Miami, but the NFL is altogether different.
"Luckily when I played basketball, my favorite thing was when it was high contact, collisionlike," he said. "Hopefully I'll be all right."
Is Swoope confident he'll maximize the opportunity? Curious?
"Both," he said. "I feel I'm capable and I'm curious to see just what I can learn and how quickly I can learn it.
"I plan to stay here."