Jovan Swann finished with 5.5 sacks last fall, his highest single-season total in three years at Stanford.
Now, as a graduate transfer at Indiana, Swann is setting his sights much higher.
“In my eyes, I need to double the number of sacks I got last season,” Swann said. “At least.”
That’s a lofty goal, especially for an interior defensive lineman. But inside an Indiana front that could use some help harassing quarterbacks this fall, the Hoosiers would love to see him get there.
“You can never have enough good defensive linemen in this league,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He’s a grown man, (a) mature body type, for sure, being a senior. He’s coming in here ready to play.”
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive tackle is eager to do so closer to home — and for a coach he admires. Five years ago, as a prep star at Center Grove High School, Swann was a priority recruit for Indiana before ultimately deciding to attend Stanford. Had Allen been the coach back then, perhaps Swann’s decision may have been different.
After visiting Bloomington for one of IU’s bowl practices in December and meeting with Allen for a 45-minute conversation, Swann was struck by what he felt was a radical change in the IU program.
“You’re on the practice field in December and I’m looking at these guys playing with passion, playing with precision and loving what they’re doing,” Swann said. “Not to say they weren’t four years ago, but it’s more prominent. You can feel that vibe.”
An added benefit is the opportunity to play in front of friends and family. During a Zoom call Wednesday, Swann proudly wore an IU sweatshirt his girlfriend gave him as a gift on the day he committed. It wasn’t always easy for those close to Swann to watch him play in person while he was on the West Coast, but spending his final season an hour away from his hometown of Greenwood will make for a more convenient arrangement for everybody.
“To wrap it up here means more than you know,” Swann said. “I’m excited to be able to have my family around for games. It’s $500 round trip to get to California and that wasn’t fun, but I had to get my degree and they knew that it was a business trip in that way. Just to be able to come back home and be able to get that support in person, it means the world to me.”
While he waits for football activities to resume, Swann is getting creative with his workouts. He found a bench press on Facebook Marketplace that he’s set up in his garage. He consulted YouTube for how-to videos for making a sled out of an old tire. And with few places to go, his Ford F-150 is serving a new purpose: Swann is pushing it to build endurance.
Swann has NFL potential, and simply coming close to his sack goal will certainly go a long way toward cementing his prospect status. In the meantime, he looks at Indiana’s defense and believes Allen and his staff can put him in a good position. Getting out of Stanford’s 3-4 scheme and into a four-man front at IU, Swann believes, makes for a good fit.
“I think Stanford had a great defense,” Swann said, “but at the end of the day I wanted to get into a scheme that fit my playing style better. Just more of an attack-and-react style than a react-and-attack. … I’m excited to get up front and play more of that attack-style defense, similar to what I did in high school. I know that was a long time ago but I still got it in me. I’m excited to tap into that and get after it.”