Last week I was able to talk with former Sam Houston State cornerback Daxton Swanson about his life, career and journey toward a job in the NFL. Read his responses to my questions below.
What matters to you most in life and why?
Daxton: Family. Just because the are the ones that support me and are always there for me.
Is there someone in your family you have a closer bond with than everyone else?
My mom. She is the one I’m closer with because she works so hard to give me the opportunity I have today. Her hard work allows me to continue my career playing football.
What is your motivation in life?
My mom again. She works so hard to give me the life that I have now. I just want to repay her. Football has been my life since I was little. Also, my motivation is playing football in the NFL. I want to support my mom with my job after everything she’s done for me.
How did you get involved in football?
I started playing when I was a little kid. I didn’t play organized football until sixth grade. We used to always play in the street or in the grass fields. It was always something I loved to do.
What is your best quality?
I’m very laid back easy and easy to get along with. I’m a very easy person to be around. People enjoy being around me so I think that’s my best trait.
What is your worst quality?
I don’t think I have one really.
Ok, what about on the football field. What is something you need to improve on?
Double moves. During games I tend to bite on double moves and I believe that’s something I need to work on.
How has your life prepared you to play football?
When I was younger I would always play with other people and better competition. I think that really helped me. I was a small guy so playing with the older guys made it tough. They never took it easy on me. Playing in Texas, you play against some great competition which has helped me as well.
Describe high school football in the South?
It’s big. It’s like a culture down here, especially in Texas. High school football is big no matter where you are at down here. You will have great teams and a great crowd. No matter what game we were playing we always had a lot of fans come out and watch. It’s different from what a lot of other states experience.
What has been the hardest part about playing football?
I’d say it was the work you have to put into it. Some days you just don’t feel like it. At the end of the day you have an ultimate goal of being the best you can be. It helps that I just love what I do. Football makes you become a better person and it becomes a way of life. It teaches you hard work and dedication. It goes a lot further than just on the field.
Tell me about a time your play was criticized and how did you respond?
I would probably say my aggressiveness in the game. That’s the way I play. I try to make plays. Sometimes when I’m aggressive I get beat on double moves. That’s probably my worst criticism. Also, my tackling. I need to be more consistent. It’s something I need to work on as I try for the next level.
Describe you aggressiveness for me?
I don’t like people catching the ball on me, even if it’s a five yard slant. I try to do everything in my power to not let the person catch the ball. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I do make a lot of plays but it has its ups and downs. There will be times you get beat, it’s just part of the game.
How do you plan to improve?
My main thing is looking at the quarterback too long. Whether its watching his three or five step drop or staring into the backfield for too long. I have to keep my eyes focused on my man. That’s one thing. As for tackling, I need to learn how to break down more instead of just diving at him. I need to mirror the runner to help make the tackle.
You played a year at Toledo. Why did you pick Toledo? And why did you transfer to Sam Houston State?
Actually, Tim Beckman was recruiting me at Oklahoma State so when he got the head coaching job at Toledo, we kind of had a bond. I didn’t have a lot of interest coming out of high school so that’s why I went there. I decided to transfer because my mom was having problems and I wanted to be back home to help her and be there to support her.
You played at Baylor and at Texas A&M this year. Describe the atmosphere.
It was fun, especially the Baylor game. It was back in my hometown so I had a lot of people come out. I was excited to play that game. A&M had a lot of people but I’ve dealt with those crowds before. I played at Ohio State and Cleveland Brown Stadium. I just like big games like that. It provides great competition and I love the challenge. I look forward to games like that. It was a great experience.
I noticed both games you had an interception. How important was that for you?
Yes, I knew they were two important games for me. I also had a forced fumble in the A&M game. Although I didn’t play as well as I would’ve wanted, I still showed I can make plays and help the team. I think it helped me out a lot.
How did a game like that prepare you for the NFL?
The main thing is communication. You need to talk with your other defensive players. You have to be on the same page as your other teammates. The noise doesn’t bother me. It motivates me even more.
You led the Southland Conference with eight interceptions and were ranked 3rd nationally. How were you so successful?
I just made plays. I was blessed. God blessed me with the ability to catch the ball and find the ball in the air. I try to be the best I can be. Those abilities are talents I have over other defensive backs so I try to showcase those skills whenever I can. I go after every ball that’s in the air.
How did your teammates respond after they see you make play after play this season on defense?
A few guys looked up to me, especially the defensive backs. When we needed a big play or something to get the team going, I try to go out and get us a spark. Many guys appreciated when I made big plays.
How do you react when you received your invitation to the NFL Combine?
I was excited. I knew I was on the edge of getting one. I kept my faith. One day after practice, my coach told me in front of the entire team. It was a great feeling knowing that it was something I wanted to do. Being a small school guy, I want to be in front of the best and showcase my talents.
How did your teammates respond when they heard the news?
They were happy for me. They gave me a lot of congratulations and wished me good luck.
How are you training to prepare yourself for the NFL Combine?
Just working out, two times a day. Working on the drills, becoming stronger. Since I’ve been training, I’m ready for the day to come around so I can show the scouts and GM’s what I can really do.
What is something you believe will stand out to NFL scouts that most other guys don’t possess?
A lot of things. They underestimate my speed. I will shock a lot of people with my speed. They think I’m not as first as I really am. I can show them I really can run. Also, I can flip my hips and come out of breaks fast. Finally, I can do a really good job of finding the ball in the air. I will be able to improve my draft stock that way.
You mentioned faith earlier. How big of a role does faith play in your life?
I know what God has blessed me with skills. I try to maximize my talents and take advantage of the skills I have. I want to continue to work on my skills and strength. I want to minimize my weaknesses.
What did you learn from your coaches at Sam Houston State?
A lot of things. Mainly becoming a better person. They wanted us to work hard everyday at practice and not take anything for granted. Even though we were a good team, they never took it easy on us. They wanted us to work hard on every play, every rep, every practice. It helped me build endurance in the game. We play a lot of man here so you have to be in shape.
Is there a player in the NFL you shape your game after?
I’d have to say Champ Bailey. He’s my idol. He plays man and zone. Even though he’s still older, he’s still a great corner and he will be in the Hall of Fame. He still makes tackles and big plays. I try to take something from every great corner though and try to mold myself into the best player I can be. Everyone has different talents. I’ll use the talents I have to my advantage and shape my game after that.