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Center Grove High School
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 02, 2021 - defensive lineman Jovan Swann #51 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the Outback Bowl game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Indiana Hoosiers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. Photo By Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics

Pigskin Passion

Former Trojans Share Pro Football Aspirations

Writer / Kevin Conrad
Photography Provided

Two Center Grove High School (CGHS) graduates are working to extend their football careers from Center Grove’s Bantam Fields to the stadiums of the NFL.

CGHS 2015 football state champions Jovan Swann and Parker Ferguson are preparing for the 2021 NFL draft. Both players just concluded successful collegiate football careers, and are training and conditioning for a possible career in professional football.

Swann, a defensive lineman, is training with 2008 CGHS football state champion quarterback Jordan Luallen in Nashville, Tennessee.

“To reconnect with Jordan has been a great experience,” Swann says. “I have put my trust into a coach who has watched me play this game from the beginning of my career at CGHS. There are already a lot of professionals that work with him year-round, which encourages motivation to train hard and get to the level that these NFL veterans are at. It’s pretty cool to share the accomplishments of being state champions as we graduated from CG.”

Ferguson, an offensive lineman, is training at an NFL Draft prep gym just south of Denver, Colorado.

“I train with nine other guys, and we train two times a day, five times a week,” he says. “The training mostly focuses on combine-specific, timed drills, but we also have a full lifting circuit we do. We have position coaches who help us prepare technique-wise for the next level, and help us learn the ins and outs of professional film study.”

Swann graduated from Stanford University in 2020 with a human biology degree, and will complete his master’s in strategic management at Indiana University in 2021. Swann played in four collegiate Bowl games, winning the Sun Bowl in 2016 and 2018 as a member of the Stanford team. He played his final season with the Hoosiers in 2020 and participated in the Outback Bowl.

Ferguson will graduate in May from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in legal studies. Ferguson helped the Air Force win the Cheez-It Bowl in 2019. Following graduation, Ferguson has a job as a space operator in the United States Space Force. However, he wants to pursue a professional football career first, and fulfill his service commitment once his pro football career concludes. The Department of Defense will rule on his waiver soon.

In addition to their training and conditioning, Swann and Ferguson each participated in the Hula Bowl in January, which is an NFL scout exposure event. The CGHS graduates were able to compete in practices and in a game against pro football prospects from other colleges.

“I was able to have one-on-one meetings with several [NFL] teams there, and since then I have held several pre-draft Zoom interviews with other NFL teams,” Ferguson says.

“These interviews mostly focus on me as a person, looking at how I would be a culture fit to a team, but often I also will watch film with scouts and coaches on these calls and explain my football knowledge, and how I read and interpret defensive fronts and schemes. NFL teams have me projected as a center or guard prospect, which is different from the left tackle position I played in college. It’s important for me to show teams my proficiency in reading defenses and making calls at the line of scrimmage.”

Swann has dreamed about playing professional football since his playing days in the Center Grove Bantam Football League.

“It has been a childhood dream from day one of putting on pads in kindergarten,” Swann says. “I knew my work could lead me to this opportunity. My father, coaches, the rest of my family and the community have always told me to keep working and keep my head on straight, and good things will come my way. To be honest, I do not believe it could get any better than to simply have the health and support to seize the opportunity and make the most of the chances that I get.”

Ferguson is thankful and appreciative to have grown up in the local community and played football in the Center Grove program.

“I was really able to reflect on that fact during quarantine,” Ferguson says. “When I was back home I would go work out and do my speed training at the CG bantam fields. It was cool for me to come back to where it all started. I started playing tackle football in second grade, and as a kid I didn’t realize how special the youth program was at Center Grove as much as I do now. My buddies at Air Force always laugh about how serious my town took youth football. My teammates always joked with me about how I still cared so much about how my high school team was doing, when I had graduated three to four years ago. I’m really such a fan of the team and the whole community.”

At the center of Swann and Ferguson’s success is CGHS Head Football Coach Eric Moore. They credit Moore for maximizing their talents.

“Coach Moore has pushed me to exit my comfort zone both athletically and academically, to make the most of my opportunities that I was blessed to have,” Swann says. “There was not one day where he let me or the guys in the program think for one second that anything in life was going to be handed to us, and that hard work and dedication would equate to success.”

“Coach Moore is one of a kind to me, and I have nothing but absolute respect and love for Coach Moore,” Ferguson adds. “One of the coolest things about Coach Moore is the way he treats his former players. I really appreciated when I got a post-game text from coach, saying he watched my game on TV and he was proud. Coach was also one of the main reasons Air Force learned about me. He went out of his way to have Coach Van, a coaching friend of his who was at Air Force at the time, come and watch me work out back in 2016. Coach Moore was also so supportive and helpful when I was being recruited to play in college, and he has done the same as I try to play at the next level again.”

Ferguson and Swann both come from very supportive and loving families.

“My family has been a great source of support for me throughout my time at the Academy,” Ferguson says. “Obviously, it was disappointing they were not able to be at any of my games my senior year due to COVID, but they traveled to all but one of my games my junior year and it was always so fun seeing them after games or spending time with them at the team hotels the night before games. They have all of my games saved on the DVR at home, so sometimes when I’m home we’ll watch an old game and relive some of the big game memories.”

“The support from my family is why I am here standing until this day,” Swann adds. “They are the ones who made the move to Indy, and ever since then I have entrusted in them that my success would be because I can lean on them in any time of need as well as my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I have been blessed with the best family a young man could ask for.”

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