Note: The following appears in the Florida State football gameday program.
Although it sounds cliché, graduate Aidan Swanson was born to be a kicker. Throughout his life, he has continued to be resilient and fall back on his morals to help him persevere through adversity and live out his dream.
Swanson grew up in Tampa, Fla. and played football, baseball and basketball during his school years at Nativity Catholic School. He specifically recalled being a specialist for his recreational league teams, as well as constantly practicing kicking a football in the backyard.
“I’ve been kicking all my life, since flag football as a six-year-old. I’ve always been the kicker or punter. My dad tells me stories from when I was a kid. I had a Nerf football and would put it on the ground to kick it. I was four or five then.”
While the passion to kick a football had been burning in Swanson since he could walk, it was not until his sixth-grade year that he decided to focus strictly on kicking for the football squad. Swanson’s dedication was immediately recognized, as he earned the starting job in his sophomore season for the well-respected Jesuit High School varsity team. At the conclusion of his sophomore year and first season as the starter, he earned all-county and all-state honors.
It was during that summer that he had the opportunity to play at IMG Academy to finish out his high school career. At that point, Swanson was faced with the difficult decision to leave his teammates and friends at Jesuit High School.
“When the IMG Academy opportunity arrived, it was a tough decision for me to leave home. It was an hour and a half south of Tampa. I was going to be home only on the weekends. However, the opportunity to play all over the country and put myself out there for recruiting purposes and join the brotherhood they had down there to compete for a national championship was very important.”
During that summer, Swanson traveled to Clemson to attend a specialist-only camp. His performance at the camp was recognized when he was singled out by Head Coach Dabo Swinney and offered a preferred walk-on spot.
“Coach Swinney wanted to see me after the kicking session during lunch. He said we are giving you a preferred walk-on spot. Going into my junior year, specialists don’t usually get an offer that early, so that was huge.”
In the spring of Swanson’s junior year, following another successful football season, he received a call from Danny Pearman saying that Clemson was offering him a full scholarship.
“I wanted to commit right after he offered it to me, but I needed to discuss it with my parents first. After talking with them, I committed that night, the same day I received the offer.”
Coincidentally, it was always Swanson’s dream to play football at Clemson. He shared this dream with both his parents, but specifically his mother, Gena, who graduated from Clemson. While Swanson and his mother have shared in their love for Clemson for many years, the two have developed an even closer relationship in the last few years.
Following Swanson’s commitment to Clemson, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only does she continue to inspire her son, she continues to support his dreams and aspirations as a player and person.
“My mom found out she had breast cancer in November 2018, and she didn’t want to tell me before I left because she knew I was going to want to stay there and be with her and not be far away. She told me to come up here and live out my dream, which was to play football here. The bond we have is very tight, and I wouldn’t be here without her and my dad’s guidance.”
Now in his fifth season at Clemson, it is safe to say that #39 has taken advantage of the Tiger experience, as well as his opportunities available to him with the program off the field. He is a P.A.W. Journey ambassador and earned his degree in marketing. During the past two summers, he has interned with TD SYNNEX in Greenville.
However, his ultimate goal is to find a career in sports radio and begin his own sports podcast. In his final season as a Tiger, Swanson has begun to reflect on his time in Tigertown and what Clemson has meant to him, as well as his hopes for the future.
“I don’t want to finish with any regrets. I’ve had a great career here so far. I also want to put myself in the best position to succeed after football, whether it be with sports radio, sports podcast, TD SYNNEX, sales or marketing. I actually have my own sports podcast that I do alongside a close friend and my bother, Liam.
“I want to leave my mark on the program and leave it better than how I found it. I want to make sure the guys in the specialist room know how to carry themselves and how to represent the program in the correct way.”
Outside of football, he is involved in his Catholic faith. His father’s mother immigrated from Ireland, and she passed on the Irish Catholic faith to the family. He considers prayer to be an important routine during his daily life.
“My faith is a huge part of my life. I say a prayer before every game. My ultimate goal is to have a definite knowing that I will be in heaven when my time here is over.”
As Swanson’s career as a Tiger comes to a close, there is no doubt that he has left his mark on Clemson football. Whatever obstacles he encounters in his life, he will exercise what he has gained from his faith, family and Clemson football to guide him.