Erik Swoope

Erik Swoope making strides

As Erik Swoope enters his second season with the Indianapolis Colts, it may be time to stop thinking him as a former college basketball player. 

Instead, head coach Chuck Pagano says Swoope is blossoming into an NFL tight end.

"He's doing a nice job," Pagano told reporters Wednesday, according to Stampede Blue.  "He's turning into a football player right before our eyes.  The guy is a hard worker.  He's got talent.  He can run.  He's got a big catch radius.  He understands things obviously better now than he ever has, so he's able to play faster like I mentioned before.  He's making plays."

Swoope, who signed with the Colts after playing basketball at the University of Miami, spent last season on the team's practice squad. It was his first season playing organized football.

While Pagano said the progress has been evident, he stressed Swoope still has more to do to earn a roster spot.

"Like we tell all those guys, and I mentioned it when we first got together in here and even after the draft, they've got to find a way to become necessary and make it to where as a coaching staff, we sit back and we say at the end of the day, ‘We've got to have this guy.' 

"Again, it'll be with all those guys that are fighting for roster spots, special teams are going to play a major role in that as well.  Until we get the pads on though, we could all dress out and look pretty good out there right now. Most of us."

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Chuck Pagano: Erik Swoope "becoming a football player right before our eyes"

Last offseason, the Indianapolis Colts signed a player who hadn't played a single down of collegiate football but a player who, instead, had been a basketball player at Miami.

The team knew that it would be an adjustment for Erik Swoope and that it would certainly not be immediate, but throughout the offseason and training camp last year, Swoope showed the potential that caused the Colts to continue to work with him, as he stuck around on the team's practice squad last year.  Now, Swoope is looking to make a push for a roster spot, and he's off to a good start.

He was one of the stars of Wednesday's OTA session, the second such session open to the media and the fifth held by the team overall.  He's turning heads of both media and coaches alike, and he's showing a lot of development from last year.  Colts head coach Chuck Pagano mentioned today how Swoope is becoming a football player after playing collegiate basketball.

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Offseason Sleeper: TE Erik Swoope

INDIANAPOLIS --- May 13th will mark the one year anniversary of Colts tight end Erik Swoope playing organized football, and all 365 of those days have been a trial by fire in the NFL, after playing four years of college basketball for the Miami Hurricanes.

After a rookie season on the Indianapolis practice squad where he went from 220 pounds on the hardwood to 246 pounds on the gridiron, Swoope (pronounced “Swope&rdquoWinking has defined goals for year two after adding 26 pounds to his frame.

“I want to learn the offense. Above anything, I need to know what I’m doing,” Swoope told on Wednesday. “Right now everything is catered around studying and getting myself in peak shape, so I can basically run around like I did on the basketball court.”

That means knowing his assignment on any given play on offense or special teams before the ball is snapped.

“Just getting a sense of if I’m in a run situation, learning the different defensive coverages, how the line is set up,” Swoope explained. “Getting used to some of the calls, hearing our quarterbacks, just how they’re giving some general information, but just getting used to training my ears to hear that again. Now having that year of experience going into it now, it’s so much easier. I actually feel like I understand what they’re talking about. It doesn’t feel like Japanese anymore. It looks like it’s going to be a good year.”

That’s a confident statement from Swoope, considering he literally had no idea what to expect when he walked into the building as a football player for the first time last offseason.

“Last year, I had never even seen a football practice. I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Swoope remembered. “I didn’t know how the guys were going to be, never been in a football locker room, not even getting to football terminology, just the basics of being on a team with this many people I hadn’t been around ever. So going into this year, being around for the whole season was extremely beneficial. Now coming back, I feel like I’m a part of this team...I can go into this season with goals and things I want to achieve personally. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

And Swoope points to his time on the practice squad last season as valuable for a number of different reasons.

“The biggest thing was going against the defense. I went against the starters all season,” said Swoope. “I had some back-and-forth conversation with them, giving me pointers and tips to work on, so whether I’m emulating Jimmy Graham to (Rob) Gronk(owski), Julius Thomas, or whoever, I would kind of get familiarity. I would study the guys. I got a lot of time to study their tape, their catches, their drops, whatever it may be.”

Posting up on the block is now getting inside position in the red zone, and a quick twitch off the line of scrimmage is the new crossover.

Swoope follows in the footsteps of Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham, who also played basketball for Miami in college before spending his first five years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints (three of which were Pro Bowl seasons). Unlike Swoope though, Graham played one season of college football as a graduate student before being drafted in the third round. Swoope didn’t have that luxury before signing as an undrafted free agent, but not until he consulted with Graham himself.

“The main thing Jimmy did was ask me character questions --What motivates you?" Swoope told last year.  "He said, 'If you're going to make this change, don't let it just be on a whim. If it motivates you, strive for it.' We didn't talk about X's and O's, just about character."

The X’s and O’s have come throughout the past 11 months, and the tape study of the great tight ends in the NFL has helped too.

“The biggest thing, especially talking to those guys, is you have to find within your skill set what’s going to stand out, the things that you have to carry onto the field that no one else can do,” said Swoope Wednesday. “The things that are going to make you stand out, make you a real threat in this league. From a variety of conversations, I’m trying to find that from a physical standpoint, weight, the whole deal, and then to route running, blocking, so on and so forth.”

At 6’5”, Swoope is an inch shorter than Colts tight ends Coby Fleener and Jack Doyle but two inches taller than Dwayne Allen on the roster; although, Swoope is still the lightest of that group, listed at 246 pounds.

The position is deep on the Colts roster, as Swoope continues his quest to master a new sport at the professional level, but it will be an intriguing evolution to observe as the offseason program continues.

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Erik Swoope Signed To Futures Contract

The Indianapolis Colts announced today that they signed 10 players to reserve/future contracts including: WR-Kadron Boone, DE-Gannon Conway, RB-Jeff Demps, LB-Carlos Fields, S-Winston Guy, T-Tyler Hoover, WR-Ryan Lankford, WR-Josh Lenz, DT-Kelcy Quarles and TE-Erik Swoope.

The majority of the aforementioned players previously had solely spent time on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, with the exception of Kelcy Quarles, who additionally was on the active roster for a brief stint. With Arthur Jones‘ ankle injury in Week 2, Quarles was quickly signed from the Patriots practice squad and appeared in 2 games for the Colts defensive line before he was released and subsequently re-signed to Indianapolis’ practice squad.

Another name of intrigue is Erik Swoope. The former University of Miami basketball player has tried to make a successful conversion to NFL tight end. Apparently, after showing some initial promise in last year’s training camp and preseason, the team believes he’s still worth a further look to try to develop.

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Another proCane Super Bowl Ring Guaranteed This Year In Super Bowl XLIX

#proCane #Colts WR Reggie Wayne, TE Erik Swoope, Special Assistant Rob Chudzinski and Head Coach Chuck Pagano have advanced to the #AFCChampionship to take on DL Vince Wilfork and the #Patriots, while in the #NFCChampionship game #Packers DB Sam Shields, Senior Personnel Executive Alonzo Highsmith and Scout Glenn Cook will take on the #Seahawks and Practice Squad T Justin Renfrow and Scout Dan Morgan.

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Latest proCane Cuts & Signings

It was one of the busiest NFL proCane roster cut weekends of all-time. See below all the action.

WR LaRon Byrd was cut by the Dallas Cowboys who signed him this offseason, but was quickly picked up by the Cleveland Browns and placed on their active roster.

DB Brandon Harris was cut by the Texans, who drafted him out of Miami 3 years ago, but was also quickly picked up and added to the Titans active roster.

Practice Squad Signings: Stephen Morris: Jags, Tommy Streeter: Dolphins, Chase Ford: Vikings, Erik Swoope: Colts, Brandon Washington: Rams, Harland Gunn: Falcons, Micanor Regis: Panthers, Asante Cleveland: 49ers.

Cuts: Maurice Hagens: Falcons, Eric Winston: Seahawks, Richard Gordon: Chiefs, Tyler Horn: Titans, Jared Wheeler: Bills.

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Erik Swoope turning heads with Colts

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was in the middle of the team’s offensive meeting the night before last week's preseason opener against the New York Jets when he tried to remind his players that playing in MetLife Stadium is no different than playing football in little league, middle school or high school.

It’s just football. That was Hamilton's message.

Hamilton continued and asked all the players who played football growing up to raise their hands.

You’d think every offensive player in the meeting room would have raised his hand since they're in the NFL.

Wrong. And tight end Coby Fleener made sure to let Hamilton know.

Fleener got Hamilton’s attention and pointed to tight end Erik Swoope. This is the first time Swoope has ever played organized football. He played basketball at the University of Miami.

“I was caught off guard, it was an honest mistake,” Hamilton said. “Even so, that’s more of a reason that you have to commend Swoope and (tight ends) coach Alfredo Roberts for the progress that he’s made to get to this point where he was able to go out and give us a few good snaps in a pro football game. That was his first time of playing contact football.”

Swoope played five snaps and didn’t have a catch against the Jets, but the fact that he’s reached this point is a step in the right direction for him. Swoope didn’t play football growing up in Southern California because he was too big to play with his friends. He needed somebody to show him how to put pads on after the Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent in May.

“At the point of attack he was physical. He didn’t shy away from contact,” Hamilton said. “He didn’t have an opportunity to catch a pass, but there was a play where he released and he ran downfield and ran a seam route. He looked like he knew what he was doing.”

The Colts are set at tight end with Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Weslye Saunders and Jack Doyle, but Swoope is a prime candidate to be a practice squad player because he has the necessary tools to potentially play in the NFL.

“We’re still in the process of molding Swoope, but he has all the things that you can’t teach, and that’s amazing athleticism, phenomenal strength and balance and hand-eye coordination, and it’ll be fun to watch him grow and progress,” Hamilton said.

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Erik Swoope Makes Football Debut

We did see former basketball player Erik Swoope get his first taste of football at any level.

Swoope, who played basketball for the University of Miami last year, logged nine snaps (five on offense) on Thursday night.

“I’d say it was a big learning experience,” Swoope, who also called his first game “thrilling” and “exhilarating”, said.

“One of the first things that surprised me or was different was the stils (pictures) on the sideline. After you get a chance to play, then you get a chance to see what you did, see different looks, then make your adjustments. Overall, I would say it was a tremendous experience.”

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Erik Swoope’s transition to football no laughing matter

ANDERSON — Before rookie Erik Swoope could finish a sentence in response to a reporter’s question Friday afternoon, he was interrupted by fellow tight end Dwayne Allen.

With a broad smile on his face, Allen gave a glowing review of the former University of Miami basketball player’s time in training camp so far.

“He’s been ballin’,” Allen said. “He’s been doing great, not just for a guy that transitioned to football, he’s just been dominating. It’s natural for him. So negate anything and everything that he said to make himself come off as a humble guy.”

Allen, of course, was exaggerating a bit for comedic effect, but that’s fitting. Because even Swoope himself thought somebody was trying to make a joke at his expense when his unlikely football career began.

Shortly after Miami’s run in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament came to an end, Hurricanes’ coaches got word to the power forward that the Denver Broncos had been calling for a few weeks to set up a tryout.

“I just thought it was false, to be honest,” Swoope said. “There’s just no way. This has to be a joke. There’s no way. I’ve never played before. And I took about two weeks just to think about it and assess if I even wanted to go down that road. And I found myself really, really curious. Of course, glad I did.”

Swoope becomes the second player in as many years to join Indianapolis and play his first down of organized football in the NFL. Former Kenyan rugby player Daniel Adongo made a similar transition last year and made his debut at any level of the game in December against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Swoope understands the odds he’s up against, but he’s getting plenty of help along the way.

“The guys in the room, they’ve been helping me out so much and being patient with me,” he said. “I’ve just been trying to do my part.”

He was surprised to see players on the defensive side helping out, suggesting changes to his footwork and pointing out ways he might be tipping the play to opponents.

But, mostly, he’s allowed his natural athleticism to takeover. Swoope likened the physicality of football to his days manning the paint in the ACC.

One of the bigger transitions has been learning to catch with shoulder pads in the way, and he knows many more surprises lie ahead. But his early performance has him ahead of schedule.

“He’s been doing great, really been picking up everything that’s been thrown at him, really shown his athleticism whenever he’s called to in the passing game” Allen said in a more serious moment. “He’s stronger than most people think in the run game and pass protection. So he’s coming along well. A great find for the guru Ryan Grigson.”

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Why to watch Erik Swoope at training camp

The Indianapolis Colts have a 90-man roster heading into training camp and have to find a way to cut that down to 53 players before the start of the regular.

Now while there aren’t many coaches to watch every single player, rookie tight end Erik Swoope is a must watch in this year’s camp.

Now let’s take a look at Swoope’s history playing football: there is none.

That was quick.

But don’t let that take away from his chances of not only making the team, but making an impact on this upcoming season.

A few guys you may have heard of would be tight ends like Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, and Tony Gonzalez. Those names sound familiar? Not surprised. Players like them are some of the best tight ends in the NFL today and have all made transitions from playing basketball to playing football.

When you look at the size and speed of Swoope, it is a framework that can easily translate to having success in the NFL.

Swoope is 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 246 pounds, a prototypical size for an NFL tight end. Analyzing a player such as Swoope this early is a challenge for anyone, but like I’ve said before, this wouldn’t be the first time a basketball player has made a transition to the NFL. What can help the transition from basketball to football is boxing out. Obviously, when a player misses a shot in basketball you have to be able to box out and get the rebound.

Now in the NFL, there are situations when the quarterback throws a fade route to the end zone and as a receiver catching the pass it is your job to set yourself up in position where you can jump up and make the catch.

Head coach Chuck Pagano has been impressed with Swoope so far stating how he has “exceeded our expectations way beyond anything that you’d ever imagine for a guy that never played.”

Swoope is currently in a position where he could compete for a lot of playing time with the Colts.

Tight end Coby Fleener is currently the starter for the Colts with tight end Dwayne Allen currently his backup. Allen is coming off a season-ending hip injury he suffered in the first week of the season against the Oakland Raiders. While Allen did have a productive rookie season the year before leading all rookie tight ends in receptions in 2012, the Colts may try to play it safe with Allen and not give him a heavy workload his first season back from injury. This move could lead to the opportunity for Swoope to see a lot of playing time and impress the Colts coaching staff even more.

Even though Swoope will have a lot to learn in the NFL, there is no doubt he is a player that can be a stud tight end in the game today.

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Erik Swoope On Transition From Basketball To Football With Colts

Erik Swoope is ready to make the transition from basketball to tight end with the Indianapolis Colts.

Swoope didn't play football in any youth leagues, high school or at the University of Miami.

"Learning football terminologies has been the biggest challenge," Swoope said. "It's a different language. Trying to get myself, I'm not going to say forget about basketball, but take the terminology and set it to the side so I can really hone into the different languages used in football." 

Swoope is 6'5, 220 pounds and has been catching passes from Andrew Luck in offseason workouts. 

"Andrew makes it so easy," Swoope said. "You just have to make sure you do your stuff correct because he'll put the ball in the right place." 

"It's been a pleasant surprise just to see how he's been able to acclimate himself to the game of football," Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. "His natural-born talents show every day in practice. He does an amazing job of going up and catching the football, making difficult catches. He has a catching radius that's off the charts. It'll be interesting to see how he comes along during training camp when we put the pads on and actually start practicing football." 

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Erik Swoope's transition: Miami hoops player to Colts tight end

INDIANAPOLIS -- The making from scratch of an NFL player begins at about 5:30 each morning at Erik Swoope's home near the Indianapolis Colts' training center. He prepares his own breakfast and then cues up his first tape session of the day -- usually not of himself and only occasionally of the Colts. Swoope is instead immersed in the work of tight ends around the league, paying special attention to the ones who played basketball. He watches Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas for the little moves they make to get open that hark back to their crossovers, or for footwork that is in various stages of evolution from the improvisational nature of the hardwood to the more structured steps on the gridiron.

Swoope recognizes the basketball in those players, even as it is slowly being coached out of them -- the way it is just beginning to be coached out of him, too.
Hanging in Swoope's locker -- he is in a pod of the extra lockers set in the middle of the Colts' locker room, with the other undrafted rookies -- is a University of Miami backpack, a relic from a different time and a different sport. Swoope was a four-year basketball player at Miami, a 6-foot-5 power forward known for his athleticism and for having the intelligence to understand every position on the floor. He was 6-2 by the time he was in sixth grade and already jumping above the rim. The AAU teams began to circle, and then, a few years later, the talk about college scholarships began. The risk that injury would derail those possibilities was too great for him to seriously entertain the playful chatter he and his friends engaged in about playing football.

And so he never did -- not when he was already too big for Pop Warner, not when he was taking the court for Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, the elite hoops program that produced Jason and Jarron Collins, and not at Miami, where Swoope earned a degree in economics while laying the groundwork for a playing career.

Just not the one he has now.

Swoope went to coach Jim Larrañaga's office on March 14, the day after the Hurricanes' season ended with a loss to North Carolina State in the ACC Tournament, expecting to discuss his hopes of playing basketball overseas. It was to be a routine end-of-season meeting. Instead, Larrañaga surprised him with some news: The coach had received a call from the Denver Broncos, whose area scout, Nick Schiralli, had heard from his college connections about Swoope's athletic gifts.

"I was completely shocked," Swoope said of his conversation with Larrañaga. "When my coach presented the opportunity, I was almost in disbelief. They told me they were looking for guys 6-4, 6-5 who could catch the ball and run fast. It was almost a spit-balling idea."

Perhaps. But it is grounded in precedent. After the success of players like Gates with the San Diego Chargers and Thomas with the Broncos -- and of course, most famously, Tony Gonzalez with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons -- teams are on the lookout for basketball players of similar height, weight and speed, believing they have at least as much potential as some prospects who have played football all their lives.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said that when there is a basketball player who has the physical attributes that could enable a transfer to tight end and who "can walk and chew gum at the same time," he wants to at least ask if that person is interested in football.

Swoope was, but he did not accept the invitation to work out with Denver immediately. First, he sought the counsel of, among others, Graham, the former Hurricanes basketball and football player whom Swoope had met as a freshman, when Graham was just joining the New Orleans Saints. Miami's trainer had always compared the two of them, and had told Swoope that he thought his nature -- his speed and strength and quickness, his ability to play every position, from shooting guard to center, while still knowing what the point guard did -- would make the transition smoother, as it had for Graham.

"The main thing Jimmy did was ask me character questions -- What motivates you?" Swoope said. "He said, 'If you're going to make this change, don't let it just be on a whim. If it motivates you, strive for it.' We didn't talk about X's and O's, just about character."

There is, of course, one critical difference between Swoope and Graham, Gates and Thomas. Like Graham, Thomas, a Portland State product, had played some college football. Gates was a top tight end at the high school level before opting for basketball at Kent State. Swoope had none of that background -- he had never played organized football of any kind, had never put on shoulder pads -- and he had just seven days to get ready for the workout with the Broncos. He worked mostly on catching drills, getting some pointers from his brother, Devin, who had played basketball before switching to football, eventually landing at Northwood, a Division II program. Devin, in fact, made the even more unfathomable transition from nose tackle (at 315 pounds) to receiver, which necessitated a 100-pound weight loss.

Swoope watched NFL Network. He found clips of the NFL Scouting Combine on YouTube, so he would know what drills to expect in his workout. He even studied the Madden video game, to gain some rudimentary knowledge of routes.

The audition with the Broncos did not net Swoope a spot with the team, but others were curious about his potential. The Colts had heard through the scouting grapevine that Swoope was interested  playing football, so director of college scouting T.J. McCreight approached Grigson about his interest level.

Indianapolis has taken on a number of projects over the years -- including Daniel Adongo, a Kenyan-born rugby player now entering his second season in the NFL. But Grigson had to be sold on the idea of Swoope.

Then the GM began to think the stars might align. On the Colts' staff are coaches Rob Chudzinski and Alfredo Roberts, both former Miami tight ends. The national scout who worked Swoope out, Matt Terpening, played college basketball, too. And then there's the fact that former Colts tight end Marcus Pollard spent 10 seasons with the team despite having played only basketball in college.

"Then I Googled (Swoope) and saw a dunk against Virginia Tech," Grigson said, of a rim-rattling one-handed slam delivered during the ACC Tournament. "A lot of guys would be envious of how he throws it down; he was aggressive to the hole. The way he got here -- is it crazy? At first, it can seem that way. But when you look at who the best tight ends have been -- Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham -- it makes sense."

In the less than three months that he has been playing football, plenty has not made sense to Swoope. Like when he first got the Colts' playbook after signing as an undrafted free agent.

"I looked at it, and it was, 'This is Chinese. I have no idea what I'm looking at.' " Swoope said.

Since then, he has become so immersed in football that he has not even spoken to his family about basketball. Swoope's weight training program from Miami has transitioned well to the NFL, as he already has put on about 20 pounds from his senior-year playing weight -- he is at 246 pounds now -- and likely has another 10 to go. Football's necessary emphasis on developing size and strength is a departure from the emphasis on joints demanded by spending so much time in the air during basketball games.

"Basically, everything has to get bigger," he said.

The greatest adjustment, though, has been mental, as he moves from the more improvisational style of basketball to the more rigorously structured execution of football. Thomas, who says he still feels like he is early in his own adjustment to football, declared that one of the things that surprised him about football was the length of the day and the level of detail covered at meetings.

"In basketball, you practice and go home. I couldn't imagine if a basketball coach went through and said, 'Look how high your step was,' " Thomas said. "In football, it is so strict on what you're doing and how you're doing it."

And so Swoope is learning nuances that many of his teammates might have first encountered as early as childhood -- not just the play and the formation and the reads, but knowing what everybody else on the field is doing and how his tempo will affect others. It is the difference between knowing that in basketball everyone can get open and recognizing that in football he might be running his route to allow others to work free. Veterans have given him tips on everything from how to block for a run to keeping his eyes on specific defenders.

Working against defenders in OTAs has helped Swoope understand the value of foot fakes and hand positioning, and what a difference doing it correctly makes. And when he watches the film of the former basketball players, he notices how much more structured their physical positioning -- where their feet and hands are -- gets as they spend more time in the NFL.

"I've been surprised at how specific it is, and then when you do it, I'm surprised at the difference it makes," Swoope said. "In basketball, everybody has a different shot form, or a different way they lay it in. In football, there has been, through history, proven ways that work. You emulate those very specifically."

With Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, two promising youngsters selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Colts are loaded at tight end. So Swoope is a likely candidate for the practice squad or to make the active roster as a special teamer, a job that would probably suit him because of his basketball-bred ability to play in traffic.

Grigson admits that when Swoope arrived with the other rookies after just a few weeks of running routes, he expected coach Chuck Pagano to give him an eye roll when he first saw the new project. Instead, both men were encouraged when they noticed that Swoope already knows how to get out of breaks.

"We didn't know if he would look like a fish out of water," Grigson said. "But his burst, his body control, the way he caught the football were all really, really good signs. You saw raw athletic ability. He's very mature, very businesslike. He was already a pro and he never played. He's wise beyond his years."

Grigson went on to praise Swoope's fortitude, recalling a minor injury that the prospect brushed aside earlier in offseason workouts: "Here's a basketball guy, but he's got a little hamstring and he doesn't want an MRI. He wants to get out there. There's something there."

Whatever it might turn out to be, Swoope is still spectacularly raw less than three months into his immersion program, learning a game -- as Thomas explained it -- at a level that equates to learning addition and subtraction while everyone else on the field is doing calculus. Swoope is still, Grigson said, a very rare case, because he has to learn everything for the first time.

Thomas' coach, who also worked with Gates in San Diego, offers a dose of reality.

"It's much more difficult than it looks," Broncos tight ends coach Clancy Barone said. "For every one player that was a college basketball player that does make it, there are another 25 who don't. Mentally, they can't figure it out, or physically, the demands are too much."

Those are the odds that Swoope is confronting now, and they're certainly much longer than his odds of playing basketball in Europe would have been. The start of his first football season is still more than a month away, but in Indiana, where basketball dominated for generations until Peyton Manning moved to town, it has been hard for Swoope to escape the end of the season for the sport -- with its comfortable familiarity and dreams -- he has left behind.

"In my head, this is where I want to be," he said. "We've been talking about the playoffs a lot. But I wanted to make this sacrifice, and I'm not second-guessing myself."

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Erik Swoope exceeds Indianapolis Colts' expectations

When the Indianapolis Colts signed undrafted tight end Erik Swoope earlier this month, the former hoopster seemed to be nothing more than a freakishly athletic novelty act.

Unlike fellow former University of Miami forward Jimmy Graham, Swoope had never played a down of organized football in his life.

After Swoope's performance in last week's rookie minicamp, though, coach Chuck Pagano believes the Colts have unearthed a gem.

"To be able to just break a huddle, get in a stance, run the routes that he ran, catch the balls that he caught, I mean, off the charts, exceeded our expectations way beyond anything that you'd ever imagine for a guy that never played," Pagano said, via the team's official website. "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 has routinely run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.6s. His 35-inch vertical leap would have placed second among tight ends at the 2014 Scouting Combine. He has bench-pressed more weight than Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga has seen out of any basketball player in 43 years of coaching.

Physical ability won't be a problem. The question is whether Swoope can put on 20 pounds and pick up the intricacies of the NFL game after such a late start.
"Every time I walk by the tight-end meeting room, he's in there watching tape, he's with (tight ends coach) Alfredo Roberts studying and learning," Pagano added. "He's doing a great job to this point."

The Colts are stacked at the position with Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener topping the tight-end depth chart. If Swoope impresses enough to earn a roster spot this summer, he will start his career as a special teams member.

It's the role Larranaga believes is best-suited for a basketball player who got by on physicality.

"In Erik's case, he's best when there's contact," Larranaga told Yahoo! Sports in April. "I don't think that's going to discourage him at all. I even told my coaches, I could see him being on special teams tracking guys down and throwing people away to get to the ball carrier."

Touting Swoope as a "natural," Pagano referenced athletes such as Antonio Gates and former Colts tight end Marcus Pollard who have successfully converted to football.

"We've got some evidence out there of guys that have done the same thing, made the same transition, and ended up being pretty good football players," Pagano said, "so we're excited to see where he's going. He's got a high ceiling."

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Two More NFL proCanes Sign As Free Agents

David Gilbert and Luther Robinson – signed NFL contracts Monday.

Gilbert signed a contract with the Tennessee Titans where he will play outside linebacker, which is moving to a “hybrid” 3-4 defense. Gilbert had tried out for the Titans last week, as did AJ Highsmith who was not signed.

Luther Robinson signed a rookie deal with the Green Bay Packers, where he is listed as a defensive end.

Here is the full list of NFL proCane Rookies and where they have signed.

RG Brandon Linder: drafted 3rd round, 93rd overall by Jacksonville
P Pat O’Donnell: drafted 6th round, 191st overall by Chicago
OT Seantrel Henderson: drafted 7th round, 237th overall by Buffalo
QB Stephen Morris: signed with Jacksonville
WR Allen Hurns: signed with Jacksonville
Basketball player Erik Swoope: signed with Indianapolis to play TE
TE Asante Cleveland: signed with San Francisco
OG/C Jared Wheeler: signed with Carolina
FB Maurice Hagens: signed with Atlanta
DT Justin Renfrow: signed with Arizona
LB Jimmy Gaines: signed with Buffalo
S A.J. Highsmith: had Tennessee tryout, but was not signed, will workout with San Francisco
S Kacy Rodgers II: will try out with Kansas City this weekend
LB Tyrone Cornelius: will try out with Washington this weekend
DT Curtis Porter: signed with Oakland
DE Shayon Green: signed with Miami

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Erik Swoope Impressing Coach Pagano

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano had the following to say about Rookie TE Erik Swoope:

"He looks natural," Pagano said. "He can get in a stance, he looks natural running routes, he's obviously got great ball skills and hands, he doesn't drop many balls, he's bright as all get out. Every time I walk by the tight end meeting room, he's in there watching tape, he's with (tight ends coach) Alfredo Roberts studying and learning. The guy has exceeded our expectations for having not played the game. He's doing a great job to this point. We've got some evidence out there of guys that have done the same thing, made the same transition, and ended up being pretty good football players," Pagano said, "so we're excited to see where he's going. He's got a high ceiling." (Ft

Swoope commented about Rooki Mini Camp by saying:
"I understand I'm a project and I plan on being patient and doing my best," Swoope said Friday on the first day of the Colts' rookie mini-camp. "It'll be tough. I'm willing to be patient with myself. In my history with basketball, I had to be patient for my opportunity and it came in the last 10 games of my senior year. You have to keep working." - Erik Swoope at Colts minicamp (Ft

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Swoope ready for hoops to NFL challenge

INDIANAPOLIS -- The thought of playing football had always crossed Erik Swoope's mind. He wanted to be out there tackling and catching passes with the rest of his friends while growing up in Southern California.

But there was a problem with Swoope’s desire to play. He only wanted to play if he could do it with his friends. That wasn’t possible because Swoope stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 200 pounds at the age of 12. And while he was already dunking a basketball by then, his friends were 50 and 60 pounds lighter than him, eliminating any chance of being teammates with them since Swoope didn’t meet the weight requirement.

"I was taller and bigger than all my friends and it wouldn’t have been possible for me to play with them," Swooped said during the first day of the Indianapolis Colts' rookie minicamp.

Swoope continued to think about playing football during his four-year basketball career at the University of Miami, but the opportunity to do both was too much to ask because of the overlap of the seasons, and he went to the school to play basketball.

The chance to play football finally came about when the Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent earlier this week despite Swoope not knowing what it feels like to get hit on the football field. Playing football for Swoope is like a kid learning how to ride a bike for the first time.

"The main thing to me between football and basketball is that I just love being an athlete," Swoope said. "In the weight room, trying to get as strong as you can, as fast as you can, as quick as you can. And in basketball, it’s kind of a game of tempo. That’s what I’m learning also in football, but it’s more of an opportunity to be an athlete and for me, I’m enjoying it."

This isn’t the first time the Colts have signed a player who did not play college football. Marcus Pollard played basketball at Bradley University before the Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1995.

Patience is key for Swoope because of his lack of football experience. He’s confident because he feels he’s capable of picking up the game. He’s also curious how quick he can learn it.

One of the good things going for Swoope is that there haven't been any expectations put on him. The Colts are set at tight end with Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and serviceable backups Weslye Saunders and Jack Doyle. Swoope is able to learn slowly.

The first thing Swoope did right was get together with former University of Miami football players Jimmy Graham and Jonathan Vilma a few weeks ago. Graham, who played basketball for the Hurricanes and spent his fifth year as a tight end on the football team, worked with Swoope on route running. Vilma would tell him what he was looking for from the linebacker position.

Elsewhere in the NFL, Green Bay’s Julius Peppers played basketball at the University of North Carolina and played defensive end on the Tar Heel football team.

So why tight end for Swoope?

Tight end translates well from the basketball court to the football field, he said.

"I played power forward and I played on the wing, so I got use to playing a variety of parts on offense and defense," Swoope said. "That's one of the key carryovers, the size, the weight, the athleticism. It’s a quicker carry over because you’re use to studying a variety of things all at once."

Swoope doesn’t know what to expect when it comes to getting hit for the first time. All he knows is that he needs to run with his 6-foot-5 frame low.

"My brother played football and he told me I’m going to get hit and I’m going to quickly learn to get down and get the pads down," Swoope said. "I’m looking forward to this experience."

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3 NFL proCanes Drafted, 11 Sign Free Agent Contracts

Three NFL proCanes were drafted this past weekend during the NFL Draft, while 11 other proCanes signed Free Agent Contracts.

3rd Round, 93rd pick overall: Brandon Linder, Jacksonville Jaguars.
6th Round, 191st pick overall: Pat O’Donnell, Chicago Bears
7th Round, 237th pick overall: Seantrel Henderson, Buffalo Bills

Free Agent Signings:

Stephen Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
Maurice Hagens, Atlanta Falcons
Jared Wheeler, Carolina Panthers
Justin Renfrow, Arizona Cardinals
Shayon Green, Miami Dolphins
Jimmy Gaines, Buffalo Bills
AJ Highsmith, San Francisco 49ers
Curtis Porter, Oakland Raiders
Asante Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers
Erik Swoope, Indianapolis Colts

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Colts sign Erik Swoope to play TE

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts hope they've found the next Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham.

The Colts on Sunday signed Erik Swoope, a former four-year basketball player at the University of Miami, to play tight end.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Swoope has never played organized football at any level, but he did start 27 of 110 basketball games while with the Hurricanes.

His athleticism is what intrigues the Colts, the same way the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints were interested in Gates and Graham, respectively.
Swoope was one of 19 undrafted free agents the Colts signed Sunday.

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Dolphins Express Interest In Another Future NFL proCane

According to a UM source, the Dolphins have expressed interest in highly-athletic 6-5 UM basketball player Erik Swoope --- who has never played Pop Warner, high school or college football --– in the wake of the Denver Broncos working him out last week.

The Broncos called UM coach Jim Larranaga to express interest, and “I was completely shocked,” Swoope told “That was the last thing I expected Coach L to tell me.” Besides Miami and Denver, the Kansas City Chiefs also have inquired.

The Broncos believe he can make the transition from a basketball forward to a football tight end, like former UM and New Orleans Saints standoutJimmy Graham has.

It will be interesting to see how many teams offer Swoope a free agent contract after the draft, presuming he goes undrafted. Swoope has not hired an agent but has declared himself for the NFL Draft, opting to do that instead of playing football for a season at UM while attending graduate school.

Swoope, who has talked about the transition with Graham, avaraged 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds last season, and Larranaga has conceded that he wishes he had played him more early in the season. He showed a knack for dazzling dunks and for leaping over taller players for rebounds.

The Dolphins had some interest in Graham in the 2010 draft, but Tony Sparano loved John Jerry and Bill Parcells --- after consulting with Sparano and his scouts --- decided Jerry would be a better choice than Graham at No. 73. The Saints took Graham 95th, and Miami has regretted that decision ever since.
Of course, Swoope isn't the prospect Graham was. But it's certainly worth exploring the possibilities.

Meanwhile, UM basketball player Raphael Akpejiori, 6-9, is attending football meetings, will attend camp in August and hopes to earn playing time at tight end. One UM person said he struggled catching passes on the side on the day he observed Akpejiori.

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Following in Jimmy Graham’s footsteps, two Miami hoop players turn to football

It’s becoming something of a Miami tradition for basketball players to suddenly take up football with hopes of becoming a star tight end.

Jimmy Graham did it and has gone on to become one of the best players in the NFL at his position as a member of the New Orleans Saints.

Now two more Hurricanes are looking to follow in Graham’s footsteps.

Erik Swoope, an athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound forward who averaged 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game last season, has decided to enter his name into the upcoming NFL draft – even though he’s never played organized football at either the high school or college levels.

“I’m excited to enter my name in the NFL Draft and pursue a professional football career,” he Tweeted on Tuesday.

At least one team appears to be taking Swoope’s bid seriously. The Denver Broncos gave him a private workout last week.

Like Swoope, Hurricanes teammate Raphael Akpejiori is also exploring the possibility of playing football. The 6-foot-9, 241-pound forward has announced his intention to play tight end for Miami’s football team as a graduate student next fall.

Akpejiori, a native of Nigeria, averaged 0.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in his final season of college basketball.

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Is Erik Swoope the next Jimmy Graham?

Miami’s Erik Swoope is following in the footsteps of a former Hurricane, Jimmy Graham. Swoope officially declared for May’s NFL draft Tuesday.

Erik Swoope @eswoope21 “I’m excited to enter my name in the NFL Draft and pursue a professional football career.”

The four most productive NFL tight ends in 2013 each have basketball backgrounds. The list doesn’t even include the Denver Broncos’ Julius Thomas, who played basketball at Portland State before turning to the gridiron his final year on campus.

As a forward for the Hurricanes, Swoope averaged 2.6 points during his career. Swoope’s time in Miami is defined by his athleticism, leadership and rim-rattling dunks.

At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Swoope is an impressive specimen, but he’ll need to add weight to play tight end in the NFL. Swoope lost 20 pounds prior to his senior season, according to Miami’s official website. If Swoope can play at 240 to 250 pounds, he’ll be more effective.

Swoope will inevitably be compared to Graham, because they came from the same school. However, the better comparison is to Antonio Gates. Swoope, like Gates, didn’t play football at the collegiate level. Swoope never even played football at the high school level. Whereas Graham, Thomas and the Cleveland Browns’ Jordan Cameron all played at least one season of college football before making the leap to the NFL.

But that doesn’t mean teams aren’t interested in Swoope. NFL teams now scout basketball programs for the types of talent that could possibly translate.

The Denver Broncos, for example, already struck gold with Thomas, and they may attempt to do so a second time who worked out Swoope last week.

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Broncos work out University of Miami basketball player Erik Swoope

The Broncos were rewarded for taking a chance on a former college basketball player when Julius Thomas blossomed into one of the most productive tight ends in the league last season and it seems they’re trying to see if lightning will strike twice. was the first to report that Erik Swoope went through a workout with the Broncos on Thursday and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald snapped a photo of the session while it was going on. He averaged five points and 2.7 rebounds for the Hurricanes as a senior forward and never played football for Miami coach Al Golden’s squad.

Swoope is listed at 6-5 and 220 pounds, which would make tight end or wide receiver seem like the spots he might be able to fill on a football field.

Should Swoope make it to the NFL, he wouldn’t be the first former Hurricane hoopster to transition to the gridiron. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham made the same switch, although Graham played a year of football at the U before heading to the NFL. Expecting the same would be foolish, but NFL teams have been intrigued by athletic basketball players since Antonio Gates hit the league and strong workouts could position Swoope to be the next to benefit from that interest.

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