Swoope ready for hoops-to-NFL challenge

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
8:00
AM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts rookie tight end Erik Swoope didn't know what to expect when he put pads and a helmet on for the first time ever last month during the team's rookie minicamp.

Football as a whole is a different sport for Swoope.

He didn't play it in any youth leagues growing up in Southern California. He didn't play it in high school. And he definitely didn't play it at the University of Miami, where he averaged 5 points per game as a senior on the school's basketball team.

[+] EnlargeErik Swoope
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesErik Swoope played basketball for the University of Miami, but not a down of football.
Swoope made it through rookie camp, offseason workouts and the Colts' mandatory minicamp constantly learning something new every day.

"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."

As improbable as it might seem with his lack of experience, there was the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Swoope catching passes from quarterback Andrew Luck during 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."

The road to making the Colts has just started for Swoope. He's considered a project player who will likely spend the season on the practice squad if the Colts decide to keep him. The Colts already have established tight ends in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen on the roster. It's all about progress with Swoope, who hopes to join San Diego's Antonio Gates and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham in making the transition from college basketball to NFL tight end.

"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."

Swoope will spend the rest of the offseason working out in Miami with former Hurricane players preparing for his first training camp.

"I just know that will come with reps and practice and just trusting my own abilities," he said. "I feel like I'm making steady progress every day. I just need to continue to do that once we get to training camp."

Mike Wells

ESPN Indianapolis Colts reporter

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