Football was a critical part of the equation. But so were academics.
So when Jovan Swann learned he’d met the rigid admissions requirements at Stanford University, his decision where to play college football was no decision at all.
Stanford was always his first choice, and Tuesday — a day after being admitted as a student — Swann committed to the Cardinal program.
“It was the best of both worlds for me,” said Swann, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive tackle and senior honors student at Center Grove High School. “Academics and football; it was something I that I couldn’t pass up.
“My family believed that no matter how far I was from home, (Stanford) presented the best opportunity for me and was the best fit for me.”
One the state’s most sought-after recruits, Swann had offers from 20 NCAA Division I programs but had narrowed his choices to Stanford, Northwestern and Indiana. He received the Stanford offer in late summer, made an official visit in October but didn’t verbally commit until he received admission.
Now that he’s in, he plans to make the most of the opportunity at what is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most prestigious football and academic universities.
Stanford is frequently rated among the top 25 academic schools and is traditionally a top 25 football power.
“It’s a world-renowned university, especially in the medical fields,” said Swann, who plans to major in human biology. “When you get offered by a school like that, a school that is top 25 in the nation annually, it definitely is something I want to be a part of.”
A three-year varsity standout, Swann started drawing serious Division I attention after tallying seven sacks his junior season. The clamor for his services grew more even intense his senior year, when he helped lead the Trojans to an undefeated Class 6A state championship.
Swann finished the season with 64.5 tackles, including 16.5 for loss, and 6.5 sacks. Among other honors, he was selected the Daily Journal Player of the Year and was named a Semper Fidelis All-American.
And all the while, he excelled in the classroom.
Swann maintains a 3.9 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and plans to explore career options in medicine, possibly dentistry — possibly after playing in the NFL.
But first things first.
“The NFL is a dream for any student-athlete. It has been a dream of mine ever since I was a young child,” Swann said. “With that being said, I would like to earn my degree first before I show any interest in the NFL, if that time were to come.”
Center Grove coach Eric Moore applauds the college choice and predicts a bright future for Swann, whether it’s in professional football or the medical field.
“He sees the big picture that the NFL’s a dream, but you can’t do it forever, so why not go to a school that’s like winning the lottery,” Moore said. “Because if you go to Stanford, there’s probably a pretty good chance that you’re going to become something pretty unbelievable in life, a doctor or whatever it is that you’re trying to prepare to be.”
Because of his work ethic, Moore expects Swann to enjoy the same type of success at Stanford as he did at Center Grove.
“They’re getting a model student-athlete, a kid with a great passion for academics and football,” Moore said. “They’re getting a kid that will prepare himself as a football player diligently and prepare himself as a student diligently.”
Swann knows no other way to go about business.
“I’m going to give my 110 percent each and every day and just have them know that they didn’t make a mistake in extending me an offer,” Swann said. “Those are the expectations I have for myself.”
Name: Jovan Swann
High school: Center Grove
Position: Defensive tackle
Size: 6-foot-4, 270 pounds
2015 stats: Had 64.5 tackles, including 16.5 for loss, and 6.5 sacks; broke up two passes; forced one fumble; recovered one fumble and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Honors: 2015 Daily Journal Player of the Year; Semper Fidelis All-American; first-team All-Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference; played in the Jan. 3, 2016 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, California.
College plans: Has accepted full football scholarship to Stanford.
Parents: Mario Sr. and Jo Swann; older brother Mario is a sophomore defensive back at Indiana.