Travis Swanson earned All-American and All-SEC status while playing center at the University of Arkansas and drafted into the NFL, but he didn’t expect the phone call that he received about a month ago.
Swanson, who retired from the NFL in 2019, was told his high school No. 65 jersey was to be the first number to be retired in Kingwood (Texas) High School’s 43-year history.
“You get this phone call and you try to process it and let it marinate for as long as possible, and it’s hard to understand,” Swanson said. “It means the world. I really don’t think it will hit me until we get there.
The ceremony will take place Friday before the Mustangs’ home game against Humble. He will be joined by his wife Emily, his two daughters, his parents Todd and Gina and his brother Conner.
“Very surreal. It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Swanson said. “It really hasn’t really hit me yet. I think about the seriousness of the situation and all that, because it was never planned to come to this.
Sharing this moment with his family and daughters will be priceless, he said.
“I think the thing that matters most to me is that I always tell things to my family, my daughters,” he said.
Swanson also said he hopes his story inspires students who roam the halls of Kingwood.
“Hopefully at least one kid, hopefully a few kids in the next period, can see this and maybe opt for something they wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said. .
A lightly recruited prospect in high school, Swanson had the opportunity to attend one last summer camp before his senior season in hopes of earning a scholarship. He chose to attend a camp at Arkansas instead of one at Baylor in July 2008 because of the chance to play in the SEC.
He earned a scholarship after impressing Arkansas defensive ends coach Kirk Botkin and offensive line coach Mike Summers.
Weeks later, he committed to the Hogs on scholarship offers from Arizona, Kansas, Houston, Texas Tech and the Army, and eventually signed with the Razorbacks in the part of the recruiting class of 2009.
He said he had a simple goal after signing with Arkansas.
“I really didn’t want football to stop,” Swanson said. “I loved it so much. I don’t want it to end. How do we keep going? You gonna play college. Sweet. How do we do that? Go to the camps. Cool. The seed planted in my head was that I didn’t want it to end. It’s funny! I appreciate it.
“Today you think back to the watch we’ve been following and the story, and it feels like crazy to come to this.”
Swanson then started four years at Fayetteville and earned first-team USA Today All-American and Associated Press All-SEC honors in 2013.
He was taken to the third round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and started 53 of 65 games. He played four years with the Lions and one year with the Miami Dolphins before announcing his retirement.
Swanson moved to No. 64 at Arkansas after discovering veteran offensive tackle Demarcus Love was wearing 65.
“I wanted 65 when I came here, but Demarcus Love had the number,” Swanson said. “I was like what’s the closest? Well, Mitch [Petrus] I was 66. I was, I will go 64.”
He found the offensive line rooms of Arkansas and Detroit to be similar, which helped his development.
“When I went from Arkansas to that first year with Detroit, it was the same atmosphere,” Swanson said. “You had a lot of veterans in the group. Guys who were very open to sort of, “Hey, we’re going to take you under our wings.” Here are some things you do and don’t do. They had no reason to do that. They could have treated this as a competitive type situation and not talked to me at all. But these two chambers did and that was a huge help.
“Not just on the pitch but also off the pitch. I always try to apply a lot of things that I learned from these two groups today.
He and his wife moved to northwest Arkansas after he retired from football and joined his parents, who moved to the area in 2015. Swanson, who is a financial adviser for Northwestern Mutual, said his years of high school had helped shape it.
“My time at Kingwood, I think, really prepared me for my career in Arkansas and really established a good framework and a good groundwork, I think for the career that I had,” he said. declared. “It didn’t happen, just because I think everything happens for a reason.”