P-T's Swope to join football program at Valparaiso
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Eric Swope had his choice of colleges noted for their academics. In the end, he picked a school that had what he wanted in the classroom and a Division I football program, too.
Swope, a senior lineman for Penn-Trafford, committed earlier this month to join the football team at Valparaiso University, a Division I FCS school located in the northwest corner of Indiana in the city of Valparaiso.
The college hunt for Swope, an all-Quad East second team selection, had two major limitations: He wanted a school that offered a civil engineering major, and he wanted a school with a football program.
Swope found both in Valpo, a school best known athletically for Bryce Drew's game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
“I only looked at schools with my major and football,” Swope said. “The football program, the coaches, the campus being close to Chicago were all selling features. Plus, how many civil engineers can say that they played Division I football?”
The list of schools Swope considered ranged from other FCS schools (Princeton, Lafayette, Georgetown), to Division III academic notables (Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Rensselaer), to one of his other finalists, Florida Tech, a Division II program.
For varied reasons, each of those schools fell by the wayside before Swope settled on joining the Crusaders.
“I got hurt in the summer, so I didn't get to go to a lot of college camps to get recruited,” Swope said. “I looked at Ivy League schools, but getting in might have been an issue. Cost was a factor for some of the schools, like Carnegie Mellon. And Florida Tech was a main one I looked at, but their football coaches bring in a lot of junior college players, and they weren't nearly as interested in me coming there as the Valpo coaches were.”
The Valparaiso football program has fallen on some lean years recently, including a 1-10 record last fall, but that wasn't an issue for Swope. In fact, with a relatively new coaching staff, led by third-year head coach Dale Carlson, Swope sees similarities between the Crusaders and the Penn-Trafford program he helped lead to a 17-4 record over the last two years.
“I talked with the coach about how P-T used to be 3-7, and we turned into a 10-1 team,” Swope said. “When (Carlson) took over, the program wasn't in the best of shape, but he has turned around programs at the D-II and D-III levels, and he said he wants to build with people like me that are going to focus on school and football.”
Valparaiso is a member of the Pioneer Football League, a nationwide conference that stretches from California (San Diego) to New York (Marist) to Florida (Jacksonville). The league is a non-scholarship conference, but beginning in 2013, it will have an automatic bid for its champion to the NCAA tournament.
Both of those factors made the conference an appealing part of Swope's chance to suit up as a defensive lineman for Valpo after his graduation this spring.
“The travel will be a cool experience, going to places like San Diego,” Swope said. “On the road, it'll be a blast, with a lot of team bonding. I love to travel, and I hope one day to maybe live in the south, or somewhere warmer.
“That (the Pioneer League is) getting an automatic bid is a big thing, too. It would be great to get into the playoffs and have a chance to win it all.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers add cornerback, cut roster to 53
- Rossi: Baseball needs a new schedule
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of fishing licenses
- Pirates reliever Liz new, improved
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Megyn Kelly’s forte not Pa. Megan’s
- Security guard shot outside East Hills restaurant
- 4-year-old transplant recipient Angelo Giorno dies, hospital says