Frisco (TX) Centennial is regarded as one of the top class 4A schools in all of Texas, especially North Texas. The Titans are currently 4-1 on the season after a close loss to Prosper last week in which they fell 38-36. The roster is loaded with talented athletes and headlining the group are three players committed to D-1 programs; cornerback Ranthony Texada (TCU), defensive end Kevin Smith (Baylor) and quarterback Lamar Jordan (Arkansas).
The talent doesn’t stop with the talented trio however.
Also making a name for himself this season is senior linebacker Blair Swanner. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder with 4.6 speed is a force on defense for the Titans collecting 26 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions (1 for a score), 1 fumble recovery and 1 forced fumble. Last week against Prosper, he returned a blocked extra point (made by Texada) 95-yards for two points.
Swanner may not have the most tackles or sacks for linebackers in the area, but considering this is just his third year to play high school football it’s quite impressive.
Swanner grew up as most kids do with a passion for baseball. In fact his passion ran so deep he rarely took a break from baseball, playing on select teams up to five or six days a week from the time he was just 3 up until he was 14 years old. He lined up anywhere from outfield, shortstop, pitcher and even catcher on the diamond. He loved it and he was good. Then, over the summer between the eighth and ninth grade, he began to notice a nagging pain in his throwing arm that wouldn’t cease and after dealing with the pain for as long as he could endure, his family decided to see a doctor. They weren’t expecting the news that was given.
He had a tumor on his elbow.
Thankfully for Swanner, the tumor wasn’t cancerous but it left him with a tough decision – should he continue to play baseball and go through a grueling recovery after surgery? Or, should he try the alternative which was to play an entirely different sport? He didn’t play baseball or football his freshman year but after persuasion from his father, he decided to give the gridiron a chance his sophomore year. After all, he could hit people.
Two and a half years later, baseball’s loss is football’s gain.
“It was either have surgery and be out six months to a year and have to recover or I could stop and find something else to do,” Swanner said. “I love football so my dad talked me into trying out for the football team and my sophomore year I tried out and I ended up starting my sophomore year.”
The switch seems to be paying off as he’s yet another Titan player receiving interest from several colleges. Among the schools showing interest in Swanner are TCU, SMU, Wyoming, Arkansas, Ohio and Colorado State.
“Last weekend I took a visit to SMU and that was cool and nice,” he said. “They have committed linebackers already but if one de-commits I’m kind of in the area where they might offer. That’s where SMU is at. Next week I go out to Arkansas, they invited me to their game. I’m also going to Wyoming; I’m not sure about the date yet. They’ve been heavily recruiting me and Ohio and Colorado State are recruiting me. I’m going up to Colorado State soon.”
Last weekend Swanner made the trip over to TCU with his teammate, Ranthony Texada. The standout corner is one of the top recruits for the Horned Frogs 2013 class and Swanner quickly admits that TCU’s program is one that he feels fits his desire in a program as well.
“Honestly, TCU is beautiful,” Swanner said. “The minute I walked on campus and saw the stadium and facilities I was thinking that this place is awesome. I was there with Ranthony and just seeing everything I could really see myself playing for that place.”
Although the Frogs’ came out on the losing end, Swanner was impressed with the way the Frogs played, particularly on defense. He feels his strength would be beneficial at a program like TCU.
“I think they played well but they did make some mistakes and obviously their quarterback was out,” he said. “They played physical, their defense overall had a pretty good game. They have size and I noticed that they have a really fast defense. That was one thing Coach Sharp mentioned is that they were looking for speed at linebacker and that’s why I think I would be a great fit for TCU. That’s a big strength that I have.”
Swanner said he had a brief moment to talk to his recruiter; TCU tight ends coach Dan Sharp, after the game.
“I had a chance after the game (to talk to him),” he said. “We all went up in the locker room area and Coach Sharp came up and talked with Ranthony and I and he said we had a good game (on Friday night). He only talked to us two and he sought us out. He was happy with how we played.”
Coming from a close family, Swanner likes that he could have the opportunity to play close to home if either SMU or TCU come calling with an offer. But, he’s also content with attending college far from home if need be. Whether he’s close or far away from home, Swanner wants a school that offers a good business program and most importantly, an avenue where he can get into the ministry.
“It can go both ways with location because when Wyoming started recruiting me I’m a country boy and I loved the fact that I could be on my own and be out there and do my own stuff,” Swanner said of location. “Then TCU and SMU started recruiting me and then the whole idea of being close to home looked good because I could come home whenever I want to and get a home-cooked meal and do some laundry. That was real pleasing too. I’m sure I’d like to be close to home but being far away wouldn’t be terrible either.
“As far as academics go, I want a good business program but I also want to go into ministry so the school I pick it’s also going to depend on what they have to offer in that area too.”