MOBILE, Ala. -- When wide receiver Ryan Swope was on the field at Texas A&M, he was a quarterback-friendly target.
He caught 252 passes, gained 3,117 yards and scored 24 touchdowns in his four years with the Aggies. However, during that time, Swope had to battle his way through injuries that cost him time on the field.
Now, Swope is back healthy and preparing for the first of many steps along the road to the 2013 NFL Draft, by playing for the South team in this Saturday’s Senior Bowl.
“It’s a physical game,” Swope said. “It’s one of those things. You’re going to get banged up a little bit and you’ve just got to come back, and you’ve got to be a tough guy in this league. It’s a great opportunity to be here and experiencing this whole Senior Bowl.”
Swope burst onto the scene when he caught 72 passes for 825 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010. He followed that up with a breakout junior year, one in which he caught 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Despite the injury bug, Swope caught 72 passes for 913 yards and eight touchdowns, and did not miss a game his senior year.
During the Cotton Bowl, Swope went up to grab a pass in traffic with a University of Oklahoma defender when he came down awkwardly on his right ankle. He still managed to catch eight passes for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Aggies’ 41-13 win over Oklahoma.
“It’s very important (to overcome the injuries),” Swope said. “You have to just go forward and know that everything happens for a reason, and God has a plan for me. It’s just a true blessing to be here and be healthy and just keep moving forward.”
Part of moving forward is going through a week’s worth of NFL-type practices in front of pro scouts and coaches. It is an opportunity Swope has embraced and run with since arriving in Mobile earlier in the week.
“It’s been fun,” Swope said. “It’s been a great opportunity to meet new guys, meet new coaches, and just get the opportunity to be here practicing. It was good to get those jitters out and meet these guys and see what the Senior Bowl’s all about.“I think (my strength is) my ability to showcase my speed. Sometimes, it gets underutilized and I think it’s a great opportunity for me to show what I’m all about. I need to learn the outside and the inside. It will be good to get as much knowledge as possible.”