Father And Son: Swindalls Share Senior Year Experience
Dec. 2, 2013
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. -- Watching Ole Miss center Evan Swindall play in the SEC, his father Perry Swindall said, was watching his son's dream come true.
"He's wanted to play in the SEC since he was in the seventh grade," Perry said. "I coach for a living and coached him all through high school, so it was really special to watch him pursue this dream. And to see it become a reality at a place like Ole Miss and what he's been able to accomplish has been really special to him."
Swindall will be honored tonight by the Jackson Touchdown Club as the team's most valuable senior. He has played in 39 games with 34 starts in his four-year career, including 32 straight starts dating back to the 2011 season.
A coach's son, Swindall changed high schools between his sophomore and junior seasons, from Russellville (Ala.), to Spain Park (Ala.), and again between his junior and senior season, from Spain Park to Lafayette (Ga.). But for the last four-plus years, the Swindalls have called Ole Miss and Oxford home.
"It made us closer as a family," Perry said. "They're still close. We moved here to Oxford so we wouldn't miss a minute of what he was doing. Our younger son is probably Evan's biggest fan, so it's worked out great for our family."
"It was new to me being in one place," Evan said. "I have a lot of close friends here. I have been with Emmanuel McCray for four and a half years. We're all really close."
Swindall is one of 11 fifth-year players from the 2009 Ole Miss recruiting class on this year's team, having greyshirted along with fellow seniors Mike Marry and Cameron Whigham during the Rebels' 2009 Cotton Bowl season.
"It was a good thing for me," Swindall said. "I got to work out with Mike Marry because he was a greyshirt with me also. I took nine hours because you can't be a full-time student. I focused on school and working out, not having to do a lot of other stuff that first semester. It was really good for me and how I developed."
In 2010 and 2011, Swindall's freshman and sophomore seasons, Ole Miss went 4-8 and 2-10, respectively.
His junior and senior seasons, under head coach Hugh Freeze, the Rebels are bowl eligible for the second year and have equaled last year's win total, having gone 7-6 with a win in the BBVA Compass Bowl last year, the program's first bowl berth since 2009.
"Last year's senior class and this year's senior class, who were the two upperclassman groups we inherited here, I couldn't be more pleased with the buy-in that they've had," Freeze said.
"You appreciate a win," Swindall said. "It doesn't matter who it's against; a win is a win. After the two previous years before Coach Freeze got here, we had to make a change. It all started last year with those seniors. And we have continued to try to make things better here."
Swindall was one of 24 seniors honored on Senior Day, but he and his dad have taken it all in since the beginning of the season.
"I have been able to hold off most of the emotions for the most part," Evan said. "I'm sad that (the Missouri game) was my last home game, but I'm also glad that I had the chance to be at this university to play football."
"I appreciate that Evan is not going to look back and say, `I wished I had enjoyed it more,'" Perry said. "Going into this season, he understood that this was his last time around at Ole Miss, and he's really taken it all in. And as a dad, it's been the same thing. We have appreciated all of these last-time things, like the Walk of Champions. This was the last time he was ever going to do that. As a family, we have really taken that in and enjoyed it."
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller
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