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 Swancutt finishes strong 
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Swancutt finishes strong

His late-season success helped Oregon State get to a bowl game

By Cliff Kirkpatrick
Gazette-Times Reporter

Bill Swancutt didn't realize he was having a standout season until after the Civil War victory before another sellout crowd at Reser Stadium.

It took him that long to notice because his senior year started with futility for the defensive end and defeat after defeat for the Oregon State football team.

When it was over, Swancutt completed one of the best seasons for a defensive player at OSU. The Beavers finished stronger than anyone could have imagined ? winning the Insight Bowl ? after a dismal first half of the schedule.

The Salem native was named the Pacific-10 Conference co-Defensive player of the Year, won the Morris Trophy, Senior Bowl Defensive MVP and was picked by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the NFL draft.

"It was definitely everything I hoped for and more," Swancutt said. "I received a bunch of great accolades that were real nice to get honored for. It was nice people would notice. Vocally I wasn't trying to promote myself, I was just trying to do the best I could do on the field to help the team, and the awards came."

Swancutt left the area last week to join the Lions, but there's one more award. He was named the first Corvallis Gazette-Times OSU Male Athlete of the Year.

It was a difficult choice, putting him against baseball player Jacoby Ellsbury, who was a first-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox. When OSU gave out its athlete of the year award, it was shared by the two.

However, it came down to something very simple. Swancutt didn't register a sack in the first five games and the Beavers were 1-4. After a bye week, the team rattled off six wins in seven games, and nearly defeated top-ranked Southern California. While that was going on, Swancutt matched his single-season record in quarterback sacks at 111/2.

"I think it was the Washington game when I got two sacks that game and we catapulted our season," Swancutt said. "I don't know if they had anything to do with each other, it just happened. The season started out really depressing. After the bye week we got refocused. We turned it around, and it was nice to make it to a bowl game."

Swancutt needed time to figure out how to beat the double teams he regularly faced. And once he and defensive tackles Sir Henry Anderson and Alvin Smith learned to work together, Swancutt showed why he was the OSU career sack leader with 37.

To get out of his early funk, Swancutt spent extra time with father, Bill, watching film. They broke down all his mistakes from early in the season.

"You could tell it was bothering him," said Swancutt's mother, Kathy. "You could see how excited he was against Washington."

Another aspect of Swancutt is his leadership ability. While it was a rough year in terms of off-the-field issues for the football team, Swancutt remained the clean-cut boy who stayed out of trouble.

His mother was proud that he was the one his teammates called to give them a ride home after a night of partying.

"I just try and be a positive influence around the team and around the campus," Swancutt said. "I try to have a good self-image. I didn't want to be one of the guys who made our team look bad. My parents did a good job with my upbringing as far as academic and treating people with respect."

While Swancutt was performing for the team on and off the field, he also looked to the future. The 6-foot-4, 264-pounder knew there was a chance at the NFL because before his junior season agents were calling him.

He admitted thoughts of turning pro were distracting during the season, but he at least kept them in the back of his mind.

"I just focused on the season and tried not to worry about what my future holds for me," Swancutt said. "I knew if I did good in the season, whatever happens in the future would happen. Now I'm just excited to be with a team. I'm ready to go. Hopefully, I go out there and contribute any way possible."

Swancutt hopes to make a good impression with the Lions because he still has to earn a spot on the team. He says it's still just football, but he feels the pressure.

However, Swancutt is also looking at the big picture. He has two more terms to complete his business administration degree, and plans to finish it someday.

After he's established with the Lions or somewhere in the NFL, he hopes to start a charity to give back to the community. It could be in Detroit, Corvallis or Salem, but he likes the ring of the Swancutt Foundation.

"This season went way too fast," Kathy Swancutt said. "We're definitely really proud of him. Every level he achieved was amazing to us. We were just thrilled he play varsity in high school. Now I hope he gets the opportunity to make the (Lions). He'll give them his all."

June 16th, 2005, 12:06 pm
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