FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Hunter Swoboda entered this spring with one main objective.
The 2018 tight end/linebacker from Joe T. Robinson High School (Little Rock, Ark.) wanted to transform himself into a big-time Division I prospect.
So Swoboda, with guidance from Robinson assistant coach Brian Maupin, began doing all he could to add bulk to his 6-foot-4, 177-pound frame.
By mid-May, Swoboda was up to 210 pounds when he attended a Rivals regional camp in Kansas City, Mo. Film from the camp has almost immediately began paying dividends for his recruitment.
“Everything really picked up after that camp and Coach Maupin took some film and sent it to coaches,” Swoboda said. “That’s when my recruitment really started to take off a little bit and coaches really started talking to me.”
Though he currently lacks an offer from a FBS school, Swoboda has recently received interest from Arkansas, Arkansas State, Georgia, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
“Hunter was more valuable to us on defense last year,” Maupin said. “He was really just a role player on offense. When we took him to the camp and got some film of him there, you can see he’s a lot bigger, stronger, faster and catches the ball well. That was the first film that was really able to showcase that.”
Swoboda led Robinson with 119 tackles at linebacker as a sophomore last season. He’ll likely continue playing on both sides of the ball with an increased role in the offense. He expects his added size to be a major benefit at tight end.
“It’s a lot better,” Swoboda said. “I can’t be pushed around as much anymore. Now I’m pushing people around. In the 7-on-7 tournament we had, they tried to press and it didn’t happen. The year before they were pressing me easily, but this year I just shove them out of the way and get going. It’s a lot different ballgame.”
If Swoboda continues to progress at the rate the he did in the spring, and the offers begin to roll in, Arkansas could have the edge to land his commitment for a couple of reasons.
The Razorbacks are becoming known for utilizing and developing tight ends as well as any program in the country. Hunter Henry was the John Mackey Award winner last season as college football’s most outstanding tight end. Jeremy Sprinkle, Henry’s successor as Arkansas’ top tight end, is an early candidate to win the award in 2016.
The Razorbacks are also developing a connection with Swoboda’s high school. Former Robinson star T.J. Hammonds is a freshman at Arkansas and Robinson senior Koilan Jackson is committed for the 2017 class.
“(Arkansas) is really cool,” Swoboda said. “I like all the facilities and stuff and it’s really cool that I already have T.J. there and Koilan going after next year. It’s kind of like I’ve already got roots with them.”