Q&A with Luke Swan

first_imgThe Badger Herald spoke with former Wisconsin receiver Luke Swan to discuss his relationship with former UW safety Jim Leonhard and Swan’s roommate, Wisconsin’s Chris Maragos.Badger Herald: What was the process like for you to go from walk-on to captain?Luke Swan: It was quite the process and coming in, I didn’t really know what to expect as a walk-on. It was very much an eye-opening experience when I first got here, meeting Jimmy Leonhard and Brandon Williams and all those guys who were pretty good players. I spent three years practicing and playing a little bit and then getting the opportunity to start and become a captain was something I didn’t expect coming in. It was something that over time I worked toward and it was able to happen. Looking back it was a pretty special experience.BH: Why do you think Wisconsin has such a tradition of walk-ons becoming captains?LS: I think it’s the guys that they recruit for the walk-on program — I mean, you can go down the line and there’s so many other guys that have walked on and done great things. It just goes to show that in the Wisconsin program they go after quality guys as walk-ons, not just a shot in the dark, they use it as a recruiting option.BH: In particular, how were you, Jim and Chris able to do it?LS: All three of us are Wisconsin products — Chris is from Racine, Jim is from Tony, and I’m from Fennimore — and there’s good talent in this state. And we’re all guys that know how to work and I think that’s why you find guys that become captains, because the other players have seen what you’ve overcome.BH: So, how did you and Chris first meet?LS: It was kind of completely random. His brother Troy was part of Campus Crusaders for Christ and he also was Bucky Badger and he talked to me and connected us. Chris sent me a message through Facebook after he was thinking about transferring and we got to talking and I asked him to send his tape. So I watched it with some friends and talked to some coaches, told them to look at this guy that’s looking to transfer from a bad situation somewhere else.BH: How did Chris end up moving from offense to defense?LS: He came here as a receiver and eventually became a safety because of what the coaches saw him do. Chris was playing receiver in practice and the guy got an interception and Chris came running after the guy and dove from like the 10-yard line — the guy was on like the five — and just like crushed the kid and forced a fumble on it.BH: How close are you and Chris?LS: Ever since he’s been here, we’ve roomed together and he’s been a real close friend of mine and someone who’s kind of been able to take on that legacy of a spiritual leader on the team. It’s been a good process and I’m really proud of him. When Chris came here he didn’t really know anybody so as soon as he moved in I was like ‘hey you want to come live with me?’ We just clicked right off the bat and became close friends.BH: What similarities do you see between the two of you?LS: First and foremost, I think both of us are deeply rooted in our faith, which is an integral part of us. I think that is our common denominator and that’s what we draw strength from. That’s the reason that we play, to be able to realize where our gifts and talents came from and have that first and foremost in our lives. So that’s our first connection. That’s why we’re drawn together and why we’re similar. All the other stuff just stems off of that realization that God has given us the gift to play football and the work ethic just falls into place. Chris definitely exhibits that and it’s shown in his leadership and the way he’s worked over this last year. We’re both highly competitive as well, and I think that stems from the same thing — just realizing who we’re representing through that and He has just created each of us to be similar in that sense.BH: How close are you with Jim Leonhard? What was it like to play with him?LS: Jimmy was the guy to look up to. He was kind of the beginning of the big walk-on stories for some other guys who walked on. So it was really big for me my freshman year to come in and see how he worked and be challenged by him and get some opportunities to go one-on-one with him. He was also a guy who knew where he came from. He obviously was a walk-on at one point and kind of rose to the top, but he didn’t forget where he came from and really made it a point to reach out and talk to some of the walk-on guys just to give them advice and talk. To be able to just sit and talk with him and hear the process he’d been through to get to where he was…that was awesome.BH: Do you still hope to play in the NFL someday?LS: I’d love to play in the NFL, but after everything I’ve been through with my injuries, I’ve come to a realization and a peace that my football career is probably over. I’d love to play again, but as of now, teams aren’t too interested in a guy who has torn his hamstring twice to the extent that I have. I got my opportunity, and I never thought I would. I got opportunities to have that opportunity to play in the NFL and got opportunities to be on a reality television show with Michael Irvin as the host and Jerry Rice as one of the coaches. So, I’ve done way more than I ever expected with football. If it comes again where I have football in my life, that’d be awesome to play. It’d be almost selfish if I said I deserve more because there’s no way that I do.BH: What was it like being on the show?LS: Being on the show was a great experience. I got to meet a lot of NFL Hall of Fame players as guys came through and gave us some advice. It was a great show to get to know some of those guys. One of the guys that I really got to know was Andrew Hawkins, one of the guys in the top three. Just being on television gives you some opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve had lots of opportunities to have speaking engagements and just share what’s really important to me and what I hope can become really important in other people’s lives.BH: How often to you and Chris talk football? Does he ask you for advice?LS: Chris always brings home a copy of the game and we’ll watch it together and talk about different things football wise. I love the game and we love to talk football. We have a relationship where whatever is on our minds we talk about, sometimes it’s football, sometimes it’s other things. It’s definitely been a blessing to me to have Chris around and have him part of my life.BH: Do you watch all of Wisconsin’s games?LS: My brother plays up in Winona at Winona State, so I’ve been to most of his games as well, but I try to make it to as many Wisconsin games as I can. Sometimes it’s tough to watch and wish that I was playing, but it’s fun to be able to see the guys, especially some of the ones that I played with, having success this year and feeling like I’m a part of that because I helped mentor some of those guys.BH: What’s it like for you to see Chris having so much success?LS: It’s so awesome to see a guy who has honored God every step of the way just be performing the way Chris has this season. It’s cool to see him just take everything in stride and give everything back to God. And beyond all that, it’s fun just to see him out there as just a close friend doing so well. He’s done tremendously well and I think he’ll have a great opportunity to continue that on this season and beyond.BH: On that note, what kind of future do you see for Chris in football?LS: I think the sky is the limit for Chris. I think he’s obviously very talented football-wise. He’s only been at the safety position for two years and he’s just getting better and better. If he continues to succeed, I think he’ll have the opportunity to play at the next level. There’s a lot of great players out there, but I could definitely see Chris Maragos making an NFL squad and making some noise just like Jimmy Leonhard did as a walk-on and a team captain and follow in his footsteps. Beyond that, I know that Chris will always be a great representative of Christ, a representative of God and everything else will fall into place.last_img read more