Collected Wisdom: Jake Hager, WWE professional wrestler Jack Swagger and former OU football player

Oklahoman Published: April 19, 2014

Right after we won the Rose Bowl (in 2003) against Washington State the wrestling team needed a heavyweight. They didn’t have any backups and I was anxious to get back on the mat competing. I had been wrestling since the age of five, so I couldn’t stay away from it for too long. The relationship I had with the coaches there really solidified my decision to commit to wrestling. I really trusted those guys and wanted to see how far I could go with wrestling.

My senior season I was lucky enough to have the national tournament held in Oklahoma City at the Ford Center. I had a lot of my hometown friends and family to support me along with the Sooner fans. It was kind of reminiscent of being at the high school state tournament, because the whole town of Perry is there for you. It was a very cool moment for me. I didn’t finish as well as I wanted to, but I was still an All-American and I went out with a pin. I remember looking up into the stands and I just felt like they were proud of me and that was nice.

I got very lucky with how I got signed by the WWE. I had met Jim Ross and Jerry Brisco before I was even in college and they always told me to get your degree first and then we’ll give you a shot if you want to come try your hand with the WWE. I graduated in May 2006, flew out to Atlanta for a week to tryout, and by July 2006 I was signed and training in Atlanta. I took a little bit different path than most WWE superstars have taken. I’m one of the few superstars who have gone through all three of the developmental camps.

I loved all forms of wrestling growing up. Any type of wrestling I could get my hands on I loved, so professional wrestling went well with me. Jim Ross has a great eye for talent and Jerry Brisco as well. It’s pretty impressive the group of talented guys they’ve brought into this over the years from amateur wrestling. Hopefully when I’m done my name is considered up there with the greats they’ve brought into the WWE.

by Trent Shadid
Copy Editor
Trent Shadid is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Weatherford, Okla., and attended Weatherford High School. Before joining The Oklahoman, he spent two seasons as an assistant wrestling coach at Weatherford High...
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