UW football: Swan tops the charts at receiver

                                                [/align]                                                                                                         TOM MULHERN

608-252-6169                                                 [/align]                                                                                                        

                                                [/align]                                                                 On the first day of practice for the University of Wisconsin football team last week, junior Luke Swan lined up as one of the wide receivers with the No. 1 offense.

Imagine the odds you could have gotten a year ago, had you been prescient enough to predict Swan would somehow work his way to the top of the depth chart at the start of this season.

"I'm not really sure," Swan said when asked how many people would have predicted that. "I don't know exactly what the outside world thinks. But I definitely have confidence in myself."

Swan is a walk-on from Fennimore who still has yet to be given a scholarship, much as that pains UW coach Bret Bielema.

                                                                [/align]                                                                                                                                         "Swanny's a guy that was right there on the bubble the last two years," Bielema said of the scholarships awarded to walk-ons. "He's a guy I've been very impressed with, going into fall camp, just because of the way he's caught the ball. It's very important to him. You can see (how much) he wants to get out there."

With six true freshman receivers on this year's team, Swan's role on the team has never been more important.

Receivers coach Henry Mason was certainly making a statement, of sorts, when he put Swan as a starter to begin camp.

"The thing we try to do with our offense, each wide receiver position has a personality," Mason said. "I just felt, at this point in time, that we start the first day with (Swan) out there."

And just what personality does Swan bring to the position?

"He knows exactly what to do," Mason said. "His personality and the way he goes about his business is exactly how I want all my guys to play.

"He comes every day, he works hard, he wants to be coached, he's respectful and he wants to do well. He goes to school. He works hard at that. He's a guy that's a walk-on, who works as hard as anybody.

"Just take the football out of it - I have a lot of personal respect for him, for what he has done and how far he has come since he walked in the door."

Xavier Harris, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has caught the ball extremely well and has made the biggest impact among the freshman receivers. It doesn't hurt that Swan and Harris play the same position.

"We're fortunate (Harris) plays the same position as Luke Swan," Mason said. "Luke can coach him. He knows the offense in and out. (Harris) has always got a pacifier, someone there to lean on when it's like, 'I'm not quite sure.' "

Swan did everything but blush when Mason's comments were passed along to him."Wow, it puts me back a little bit, I guess," he said. "I would like to become a coach some day, so that's really an honor."

Swan has modest physical abilities. He's listed at 6 feet, 196 pounds and is not supposed to be fast enough to play in the Big Ten Conference.

"You've got to be on point with everything and use the abilities you have and maximize them by knowing everything you can," he said of how he gets by.

Swan spent four practices with the No. 1 offense, before being sidelined with what appeared to be a slight muscle pull.

It seems like only a matter of time before Harris and possibly some of the other touted freshmen pass him.

Yet, Swan caught the ball well and senior quarterback John Stocco certainly had no reservations throwing to him, before Stocco underwent knee surgery Friday.

"I just want consistency," Mason said. "I want to know what we're going to get on a daily basis. When you have younger players, or guys who haven't played much, normally guys are up and down. All we want to know is what we're going to get daily. When we know that, we can plan accordingly."

Right now, it looks like those plans include Swan, when he gets healthy.

"It's definitely a good thing, a good starting point," Swan said of being on top of the depth chart at the start of practice. "I don't know where it's going to go from here, but I'm just going to come out every day and improve and see where it leads me.

"Who knows what's going to happen? But I'm excited for the year."                                                                 [/align]
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2006 Wissports Hall Of Fame Inductee

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This probably won't last as they progress towards the regular season.

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