Aug. 19, 2002
BERKELEY - As you read the preseason magazines and watch the preseason sports shows, very few, if any, will mention Tom Swoboda. But as the 2002 season moves along, Swoboda may become one of the most important pieces to the puzzle as Cal tries to assert itself offensively.
No one has taken a bigger pounding for the Bears than quarterback Kyle Boller the past three seasons. With the emergence of Tom Swoboda as a pass catcher, tough, Boller may be able to escape the physical punishment by utilizing Swoboda in the short passing game. "I understand my role on this team," Swoboda said. "If I don't produce, the offense does not work."
Swoboda, who in three years has a total of 8 catches for 89 yards, comes into the 2002 season with hopes of becoming the first tight end since Tony Gonzalez in the mid-1990s to have a substantial role in the offense. As an offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon, new Cal coach Jeff Tedford found success by utilizing his tight ends - a trend does not seem like it will change with the Bears.
"I feel Tom will be heavily involved in the running and passing games this season," explained tight end Coach Dave Ungerer.
Swoboda has prepared himself for his new role as a pass catcher by putting in more time than he ever has over this pass summer, perfecting his routes and softening his hands. "Tom is a blue-collar type of guy," Ungerer added. "He is a self-made athlete who has worked hard to develop as a player."
With a quiet demeanor, Swoboda walks through the locker room virtually unnoticed. But on the practice field, many eyes have noticed his rise as a contributor to the offense. Ungerer described Swoboda as "a silent killer, who is not vocal yet intense."
This intensity has transformed Swoboda into a leader, especially among the tight ends, where he is able to share his past experience and knowledge with sophomore Jordon Hunter and newcomers Brandon Hall and Eric Beegun.
Swoboda is not only getting it done on the field, but in the classroom as well. Last fall, Swoboda was named to the first team Pac-10 All-Academic unit as a business administration major. He also received the Frank Storment Award, signifying him as the most outstanding student-athlete on the team from Southern California.
A Peninsula High School product, Swoboda led his team to the CIF championship as a senior, gaining All-CIF honors on the way. Now, he hopes his senior success is repetitive, as he strives to make this senior season memorable, as well.