Evan Swindall won't take his first college course for a few weeks, but the future Ole Miss Rebel is getting an early education in post-high-school football.
Swindall, a standout offensive lineman from LaFayette, is part of the United States Junior Olympic team participating in the International Federation of America Football Junior World Cup in Canton, Ohio. It is the first time the IFAF has competed on the junior level, which includes athletes recently graduated from high school.
A U.S. senior team picked from college graduates is chosen once every four years. That began in 1999.
The U.S. junior squad defeated France 73-0 in its first game this week and added a 55-0 victory over Mexico on Wednesday. The U.S. faces Canada in the gold medal game Sunday, which is slated for televising on a Fox Sports network.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Swindall will start over a more highly recruited player, according to his father, LaFayette coach Perry Swindall.
"He beat out the guy they expected to start at center -- Jack Mehart, a 6-7 guy who has signed with Ohio State," Coach Swindall said. "Evan is easily the smallest guy on the line, but he was starting by day three because he showed the coaches he really knew the position and what everyone else was supposed to be doing. He's having a lot of fun and learning quite a bit."
Each of the 45 U.S. players has signed with an NCAA Division I school, and all but a handfull are from the North and Northeast. Evan Swindall is the only player from Georgia.
"It's quite a process to get selected," Perry Swindall said. "The IFAF calls college coaches to see if they agree to let the kids play, and once they do they make their list and offer the invitations. It's really an honor to get selected. I have been really impressed with the whole experience. This American team is really good."
His son, who has played line in the spread offense in high school, is learning the nuances of blocking in a more run-oriented attack this week. He believes the experience can only help him at Ole Miss.
"There's been a lot to learn because I've never been in an I-formation offense, which is a lot more run than pass," he said. "We're going hard at practice and I hope it will help me in college. It's pretty fun to play against guys from all around the world. They all play hard."