After catching just one pass in his first two seasons as a professional football player, Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned into an important weapon for Peyton Manning in 2013. Thomas, who played college basketball (and football) at Portland State, caught 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns on a team that reached the Super Bowl.
What does Thomas’ success have to do with college basketball, especially when considering the fact that he’s been out of college for three years? According to a tweet from Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, the Broncos are taking a look at another player whose college playing experience came on the basketball court as opposed to the gridiron.
That player is former Miami forward Erik Swoope, who last month completed his four-year playing career at the ACC school. The Broncos worked out Swoope on the Miami campus Thursday according to Navarro.
Swoope was listed as being 6-foot-6, 220 pounds on Miami’s roster this season. With the Hurricanes lacking depth due to the graduation of five seniors and the early departure of Shane Larkin after reaching the Sweet 16 in 2013, Swoope played 18.4 minutes per game in 2013-14 and averaged 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds.
If Swoope were to continue on the “hoops to football” path and enjoy success he wouldn’t be the first Hurricane to do so. Jimmy Graham made the transition but it should be noted that like Thomas, Graham played a season in college after playing four years of college basketball at Miami.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.