Swanson, defense looking to rebound

While every player, coach and fan in attendance had a vested interest in the City College of San Francisco football game last weekend against College of San Mateo, one particular group of individuals had a little bit more on the line than the rest.

That group, the players making up the CCSF defense, had just been shredded for 42 points, including 14 in a fourth-quarter breakdown that saw the Rams’ blow a 10-point lead.

So, when CCSF quarterback Jeremiah Masoli found a streaking Andre Wells inthe back of the end zone for a 45-42 lead with 6 seconds left in the game, giving the Rams a nail-biting win, there was more than a simple sigh of relief from the CCSF defenders.

“I was real nervous on that last play,” said Rashad Swanson, the Rams’ starting strong safety. “The secondary definitely didn’t have our best game that day, so I was so happy to see Andre come up with that catch in the end zone to give us the win. We definitely dodged a bullet there.”

Despite giving up 510 yards, including 304 through the air, Swanson and his fellow Rams defenders managed to eke out the win against CSM. Saturday, they’ll get a chance to redeem themselves when the sixth-ranked Rams (6-1, 2-0) host second-ranked Foothill College (7-0, 2-0) at 1 p.m. in a battle for NorCal Conference supremacy.

“Our defense has a lot of pride and, until last week, we were ranked at the top of the state in almost all of the defensive categories,” Swanson said. “We plan on using last week’s game as motivation. We have a lot to prove and we’ll need to be at our best against Foothill, because they’re a great team.”

If the Rams are to make a defensive turnaround, Swanson will certainly play a key role. A two-year starter at safety, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Swanson has picked up 45 tackles in six games this season, helping anchor a defensive unit that was surrendering only 17 points a game before last week’s contest.

Not the typical lumbering headhunter in the secondary, Swanson is a safety who is as fleet as he is powerful. A former track star at Deer Valley High School in Antioch — he owns a 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash — Swanson is equally adept at covering receivers in the flat as he is picking up tackles as the Rams’ last line of defense.

The combination of size and speed has made Swanson a hot commodity on the Division I level. Ranked as the top junior college safety in the nation by JCFootball.com, Swanson has been consistently recruited by Arizona State, Oregon and Kansas State, while Mississippi has made a good push recently for his services.

“Rashad is a great character guy,” CCSF coach George Rush said. “He’s a quiet hard-working player who’s very coachable. He’s going to have to think about a lot of different factors when it comes to choosing a college, but whatever team gets him will be lucky to have him.”

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