By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN — In a little more than a year’s time, Josh Swogger has traveled from Washington to Montana to Minnesota to Indianapolis to Youngstown to Kansas City to Buffalo to. ...
Well, you get the picture.
It’s all in pursuit of a dream he’s had since he was little: to make it to the NFL. Or, failing that, to just keep playing.
“The one thing you learn in this business,” Swogger, an Ursuline High graduate, said, “is not to count on anything until it happens.”
Swogger wasn’t selected in April’s NFL draft and has since had two NFL tryouts (the Chiefs and the Bills) and one AFL tryout (with the Colorado Crush). He was going to play in NFL Europe, but then the league folded.
But he’s still 6-foot-5. He’s still got a strong arm. He’s still healthy.
He still has a chance.
“You live and learn,” said Swogger. “Buffalo liked things about me, but they’re pretty set at quarterback. I was at Kansas City’s mini-camp and that was fun, but it didn’t work out. They hadn’t released Trent [Green] yet and there wasn’t an opportunity.
“I worked out with the Colorado Crush and I could play for them starting in December. I’ll just have to wait and see.”
At Ursuline camp
Swogger and his wife are back in town right now. Friday morning, Swogger was serving as a guest instructor at the Ursuline Fighting Irish Skills Camp on the same practice field he played on seven years ago during the magical 2000 season. Swogger led the Irish to a Division IV state title that fall — Ursuline’s only football title — and chose to attend Washington State in part because it gave him a chance to get to the next level.
“I have great memories here,” said Swogger. “We had a good run that year. It was a lot of fun and it was a great group of guys.
“I keep in contact with a lot of them.”
Although Swogger played his final year of college football at Montana, he got his degree from Washington State and now serves as a quarterback consultant in northeast Ohio, focusing on high school kids who want to get ready for college or college kids who want to improve their skills or play professionally.
He’s hooked up with quarterback guru Jerry Rome, who has worked with NFL quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, Vince Young, Tyler Palko and Troy Smith and Mark Rypien. He’s also working with longtime coach Ron Blackledge, whose son, Todd, quarterbacked Penn State to a national title and later played in the NFL.
“I’m really enjoying it,” said Swogger. “I’m also working with Ursuline’s quarterback, trying to help him develop and understand the position better.”
Swogger could easily work his way up the coaching ladder, either as a grad assistant or a low-level assistant, but he doesn’t want to spend the next dozen years moving around the country to different jobs.
“I don’t know that I want to go that route,” said Swogger. “I’m going to stick with the quarterback consulting and I’m also helping my dad, who owns a distribution business.
“That’s good for now.”
(For details, you can e-mail Swogger at firstname.lastname@example.org.)