Curling into the fetal position was a highlight I considered, but it wouldn’t be fair to a dynamic player.
The Boiler Room Series is my attempt to capture the state of an NFL prospect’s development into a single play. This is an impossible task, but what if you have a limited number of plays to state your case about a prospect to the leadership team within your organization? If you’ve researched enough about this player, a cut-up of choice plays with a short presentation can provide a decent assessment of strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit for the team. You can read the rest of my Boiler Room Series here.
If I were to present one play to an NFL team on Jeff Scott, the Rebels’ fine running back and return specialist, it would be of him turning the corner on a sweep only to drop to his knees and curl into the fetal position at the feet of a defensive back and linebacker. This does not sound like a complimentary depiction of Scott, but it’s more of a reality check to a potential investor.
Truth be told, this is not disparaging commentary on the 5-7, 168-pound running back’s game. If Scott wasn’t tough enough, he wouldn’t be the team’s starting running back in the Southeastern Conference.
One upon a time, friends of mine had an impromptu backyard game in Athens. Most of these guys playing were in the range of 6-1 to 6-4 and 200-240 pounds. They were decent shape for former high school football players. They were the type of 20-something dudes who would think, “I could tackle Jeff Scott.”
One of those guys playing that day was Mark Maxwell, a local guitarist and recording studio owner (scroll down to bottom of link) who is known in town for producing an album of lullabies that have sold 100,000 copies. The local hospital even gave them to newborn parents (buy them here). Mark was a skinny, long-haired musician with glasses.
He also played college football at Georgia Tech for Bill Curry.
Maxwell was a running back and returned kicks for the Yellow Jackets. According to my friends, when Maxwell fielded the kickoff he left everyone on the ground holding a body part in well under seven seconds.
That skinny, long-haired musician ran through everyone like a hot knife through butter and he did it wearing a pair of sandals. I don’t know if this is accurate, but legend has it this was the day they nicknamed Maxwell “Sandals.”
Like Maxwell – and even more so, considering that Maxwell quit football and transferred to Georgia to study music – Scott’s game is built on speed and agility. He’s a space player on the lightest end of the spectrum of running backs.
Scott knows his limits and testing his mettle on plays that aren’t vital to the outcome of the game isn’t smart of him if he wants to help his team with more touches. Showing a play of Scott curling into the fetal position at the end of a run would be my reminder that he’s a space player and not a traditional running back.
Develop him as a hybrid or a slot receiver if you see something about his skills that fit into the current offensive scheme. Just remember that you’re seeking chunk plays from Scott.
How he’ll do that first – and best – is on special teams. Therefore, the Boiler Room play for Scott is a punt return with 32 second in the third quarter versus Texas.
It’s a high, booming punt that Scott tracks to the right hash at the Ole Miss 27. He bounces it a few yards to his right and then uses his terrific agility to reverse field and make three defenders miss good angles to him. Not only does he reverse field, but he layers a second move into that series of steps to beat that third defender and access a lane under a block.
Is this all planned? Of course not, but it’s a demonstration that his open field game unfolds with greater control than his peers.
Scott isn’t big, but give him space and momentum and he’s a tough player to take down. Not long after beating these first three defenders on the return, Scott reaches the 40 and runs through a wrap to his outside leg.
Scott regains his balance and turns down hill bending the run behind a blocker at the 45, avoiding a defender just inside the left hash. At this point, Scott has the advantage with a blocker in the left flat and a swath of open turf ahead at the 45.
He gains another 20 yards up the left flat, picks up a block, and has a convoy of five teammate for the final procession to the end zone – a 73-yard touchdown. Here’s the return.
That’s a play that can make the collective psyche of the opposition curl into the fetal position.
For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.The 2014 RSP will available April 1 and if you pre-order before February 10, you get a 10 percent discount. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the 56-page Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2014 RSPs at no additional charge and available for download within a week after the NFL Draft. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.