April 30, 2004
By Elizabeth Schaeffer
Washington State's football coaching staff set out this spring to find leadership on a young team and a starting quarterback to replace the departed Matt Kegel. Turns out, they found both in sophomore Josh Swogger.
Throughout spring play, Swogger emerged as the leader they were looking for and was named team captain by a vote of his teammates. At the conclusion of the month-long session, Head Coach Bill Doba gave the Youngstown, Ohio, native the nod as the starting signal caller.
Swogger is just the second sophomore in program history, following three-time captain and all-time leading passer Jason Gesser, to be named a captain.
There are a lot of expectations to live up to in such an important dual role. The expectation is for Swogger to be a steady lead for the offense and the voice of the coaches on the field.
Swogger believes that his work ethic is one of the qualities that made him an ideal choice for the position of captain.
"I don't think that being chosen as lead quarterback correlates with being chosen as a team captain. I don't slack off, I don't miss weights...I think my reputation is one of the reasons [my teammates picked me] as one of the four team captains," Swogger said.
The Ursuline High School product is eager to take on the challenge as the new leader. And although football is a team sport, Swogger feels that the quarterback is viewed as a focal point for the team.
"If the offense isn't playing well, [the quality of play] can be changed by the perception of the quarterback. If the quarterback is playing well, the linemen and the receivers will look like they are playing a little bit better."
According to Swogger, that is the main point quarterback coach Timm Rosenbach tried to get across to him all spring. He stressed how important it was for the quarterback to elicit the best performance from his team.
"Coach Rosenbach said that the quarterback has to carry the team on his shoulders," Swogger said.
That is a substantial challenge that Swogger says he is more than willing to accept.
"I always welcome competition and I always welcome a challenge. With my personality, I feel that I will be very successful in that sort of role."
There is no doubt that the coaches believe in Swogger's ability to step up as a leader, and there should be no concern that Swogger feels otherwise.
"I want to be a general on the field. I want my teammates to have enough trust in me to play with me," Swogger said. "I was bred a leader. I look at my dad as a role model. He is a great leader."
Swogger believes that the team's past success heightens expectations of him, but he feels that the coaches and teammates share the confidence he has in his abilities.
The quarterback isn't the only one who is expected to perform. Swogger shares high expectations of his teammates as well.
After three 10-win seasons in a row, Swogger realizes the effort needed to repeat such success. The feeling of competing and being successful is like an addiction, and he believes it has raised the bar for everyone.
"When you play as a team, you can't sacrifice the team and [neglect your obligations] for any reason. This team is smart enough and mature enough to know not to goof off. We are at such a high level in the Pac-10 that there is no room for that," Swogger said.
During the season, his schedule will be geared toward being prepared for any situation that might arise in a game.
"Early preparation for the game early in the week is key, especially for the quarterbacks."
As a quarterback, watching, studying and memorizing his opponent through film footage takes up a huge amount of time, on top of regular practices, meetings, and school requirements.
Being a student-athlete is a huge responsibility in itself, aside from being the starting quarterback. Swogger is continually aware of how he must act due to his place in the public eye.
"You always have to be aware that you are representing the University and conduct yourself in a professional manner. Right now I'm not just Josh Swogger, I'm Josh Swogger of Washington State University."