Travis Swanson was selected by the Lions in the third round (76 overall) out of Arkansas last May after entering the season as a good bet to go somewhere in the middle rounds as one of the top o-line prospects in the ’14 draft. We had a conversation with his mother, Gina, recently, and excerpts follow (the entire conversation is over at our sister site, Inside the League).
Did it concern you that Travis was going into his senior season with a team that had struggled and a coach who was in his 1st year? Did you feel that would hamper his NFL chances?
“Not in the least bit. Not in the least bit. In fact, when (former Arkansas head coach) John L. Smith came in as the interim two years previous, he really stepped up to the plate and told us everything was going to be fine, and being part of a team is picking people up and standing by the brotherhood they have. They struggled that year and had their challenges last year, but Coach (Bielema) was awesome and we never had a doubt in our mind. We knew he was going to be just fine.”
What kind of guidance did Coach Bielema and/or his staff provide regarding agents?
“It was fantastic. For us as parents, having never been through anything like this before, when they had their spring game last year, Coach (Bielema) and his staff put together a meeting of parents of seniors, almost like a little training seminar, and it was fantastic and gave us a lot of good info, things to expect, watch for, and plan for, and it was exceptional. We felt blessed to be a part of that and be more educated about the process.”
Did Coach Bielema bring in any agents to speak to y’all?
“No, no agents came in to speak.”
Did Coach Petrino’s staff help in the agent education process at all before he left? How about coach smith?
“I’m not aware because that was in Travis’ early years. I honestly don’t know the answer to that question, whether he did or not, and with the difficult transition with John L coming in there, there was nothing brought to the forefront for us personally, and that’s why we were so incredibly thankful for what coach b did, when we really needed it.”
Going into his senior season, what was your perception of where Travis would go in the draft? Where did you get that information from?
(Laughs) “You know what? I’m completely honest when I say this: we had no idea where he would go. We could get online and read a lot of things, but it didn’t matter to us in the least bit. We just wanted the opportunity for him to get drafted. There are a lot of opinions out there, and for every Google search you do, there’s an opinion, and that’s OK. We were just thankful he was being considered a part of that process. He had done everything up to that point that he’d wanted to accomplish in his life, and toward the end, we just turned ourselves off to what the opinions were. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen.”
That must have taken a lot of discipline, to avoid the Internet and Google.
“There have been days, but i think we made a decision as a family, that some days were good days and some were bad days, depending on what you read, but if somebody wanted Travis, he would be picked, and for our own sanity, that would take us through the process. It was actually kind of fun.”
For more on the role Arkansas compliance played in Travis’ education on the draft process, the family’s timeline on agent selection, the role the family played in the process, whether any untoward agents offered anything illegal, and other details, check out the full interview here.