Hunter Swoboda: The Humble Hammer

Hunter Swoboda is starting to make a name for himself, and he doesn’t even know it’s happening. Swoboda leads the Arena Football League in rushing midway through the season, yet you wouldn’t know if you talked to him. He is humble, hungry, and most importantly, credits all success to others.

Where It All Started

Hunter grew up in Arkansas, beginning his love for football at 6 years old.

“I fell in love with the sport, the camaraderie it brings, the physical play, the workouts, the training, the process, everything.”

Swoboda was a monster in high school, looking at multiple Division 1 offers. Unfortunately, he broke his tibia and fibula during his senior year, and those offers all but dried up.

Division 2 schools still believed in his ability, specifically Ouachita Baptist University. For him, the decision just felt right, the connection to the campus, team, and coaches, who allowed him to play on the defensive side, where he ultimately wanted to play.

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After Swoboda’s freshman year, he switched back to tight end. He went on to become a three-year starter and a captain in his senior season. OBU ran a pro-style offense; they did not pass much, so he lacked film the next-level teams wanted to see.

He attended the CGS All-Star game, where he garnered interest in playing fullback and tight end. After this, he traveled to Atlanta to work out with prominent trainer Chris Smith. Hunter ended up having a fantastic pro day, and his agent got him into the Atlanta Falcons minicamp.

“Minicamp was awesome, playing tight end and fullback! Awesome to get my first taste, but I was hooked. It was tough. I didn’t get any more NFL workouts that season.”

Hunter knew he could compete at the next level, so he continued to train until the next opportunity came knocking.

“I signed with Gridiron Crew. I needed film to get back to the NFL. They knew Coach Walker and had a ton of good things to say about him, and he called me, asked if I wanted to play, and I jumped on the first plane to Billings and here we are, trying to win a championship.”

“I didn’t know Billings was a place before Walker called me. The day I showed up, it snowed, so it was a little bit of a transition coming from the south. But it’s been a great experience since the moment I got here; I love the Big Sky State.”

Finding Hunter’s Groove

With the Arena Football League, the tight end position doesn’t have a consistent role, so Hunter had to harness all his previous experiences to shape his new purpose for the team. Given his natural abilities, it made more sense to play all over the place, including fullback, tight end, wide receiver, plug, and defensive end.

“There are so many similarities to FB in indoor and outdoor, blocking assignments, and blitz pickups. I’ve really enjoyed being able to get the ball in my hands and showcase some of my abilities. Coach Bonner has been awesome; he calls a great game, some of the designs are really incredible and put us all in position to win our matchups.”

Billings runs much more frequently than a traditional indoor team. The Outlaws and Coach Bonner aren’t just doing this to cut against the grain.

“I think it’s all about the people we have, our (offensive) line, coaches, fullback room, and how the season has progressed. Bonner really understands how to attack defenses. All that has collectively allowed me to carry the football the way that I have, credit to all of them for doing their job because, really, they are the ones who should be getting the most acknowledgment.”

The Outlaws understand that they are putting up an impressive offense, and because of that, they must internally acknowledge that they might see their game plan replicated against them.

“In the words of Coach Walker, it is a copycat league. If teams can do things we do successfully, they will try, but it all comes down to do you have the right personnel, coaches, and play-calling. They will try if they can.”

Hunter is the league’s leading rusher, but he was unaware of that until his last game, when some people told him post-game.

“It really isn’t the most important thing to me; winning every game is what’s important.”

Push for the Playoffs

As you talk to Hunter continuously, you will learn that he wants to focus the attention on his teammates and coaches rather than himself. The Outlaws understand they are a young team and must lean on each other.

“For all of us, it was a new experience; I think for everyone, we had to build trust. As the season continues, we’re all in a good spot.”

The Outlaw’s focus is pointed with one goal in mind.

“It’s to go 1-0 every week and, of course, win a championship, but being here and enjoying all of this with the team.”

Swoboda knows for the Outlaws to do this he has to play his part; his goal is to “run hard with the ball and do whatever it takes for the team to win, each rep, down, series, and game.”

Early in the season, Hunter was playing on the kick return unit; he mentioned it was arguably his favorite moment of the season so far.

“It was awesome to see all the blocks executed and watching Duane Brown take off. I mean, he did all the work; he made some dudes miss, but it was an awesome moment, a really great team effort to start the year.”

Hoping to learn more about his favorite play of the season, Hunter veered away from taking any credit again.

“I think back to every hard yard where I got 3-4 yards. I pop up and see the line ready to smash some more heads and do it again. It’s just exciting every time; there isn’t really one moment for me specifically. Seeing those guys ready to rock just gets me pumped.”

Message to the Outlaw Fans

“I have really enjoyed my time meeting the fans here; there have been some incredible experiences in a short amount of time. It’s been special. So many fine people here in Billings; this city really embraced us. We’re excited to compete for a championship here in Billings; the way the city has supported us, they deserve it.”

1 Comment

  • Posted June 20, 2024 8:46 am 0Likes
    by Caleb Lucien Caleb

    Go Hunter
    Proud of you

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