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Clemson draft: NFL dreams the end of a long road for Scott
Clemson draft: NFL dreams the end of a long road for Scott
By PAUL STRELOW
3-4 defenses stock up on run-stuffers who plug the middle
PROJECTION: 3rd-4th rounds
There is no place like home for Dorell Scott, which is why the former Clemson defensive lineman regards his plans for next weekend’s NFL Draft as a fool’s paradise.
In Scott’s fantasy, he finds refuge in the cozy confines of his mother’s living room in Columbia, calming his anxieties in this low-key environment.
Fat chance, he suggests with a chuckle, predicting the crowd will spill out of the three-bedroom residence. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to end up way more than I expect,” Scott said.
Home is also the scar that reminds Scott that no matter where he is drafted — pro scouts estimate he will be selected between the third and fifth rounds — it will amount to more than he expected from football when the 6-foot-3, 312-pounder hit bottom less than four years ago.
The episode accounts for why Airport High football coach Kirk Burnett calls the embrace he gave Scott on Clemson’s senior day in November “the most satisfying hug I’ve probably ever given.”
“He had me worried,” Burnett said. “You look at somebody who weighed 315 pounds, lying on his bed not happy with life. I walked out of his bedroom, and I was scared. I didn’t know if I’d hear a gunshot or what, because he was that depressed with life.”
“But he’s really grown up to be a happy person and a superb individual. Just seeing him that (senior) day and talking with him since then, he seems to have developed such a positive outlook.”
‘A MOMENT OF DOUBT’
The signs first became evident when Scott reported to August camp in 2005. After a strong offseason in the team’s strength and conditioning program, Scott was expected to contribute as a second-string redshirt freshman.
But his teammates and coaches noticed he was being distant and eating little.
So Clemson offensive coach Brad Scott (no relation), who recruited Scott out of Ridge View High, called Burnett.
Burnett was more than Dorell Scott’s coach. While combing the school cafeteria for prospective talent, he met Scott his freshman year of high school and convinced him to give up ROTC for football.
Burnett quickly replace the father Scott said he never knew.
So Burnett knew something was wrong when Scott declined to answer his phone calls.
Approximately two weeks into fall practice, Burnett heard from then-coach Tommy Bowden, reporting that Scott had gone AWOL from the team and was presumed at home.
In fact, Scott remained in Clemson, bunkered in his bed, sapped of energy and will due to a number of factors.
His mother, Diane, had developed an unspecified sickness that put in danger her ability to work and provide for the family — not to mention the threat the medical bills imposed. Scott has a younger sister, Reauta, who is now a Clemson sophomore, plus his grandparents are among the family core.
At the same time, Scott was struggling with being a low man on the depth chart and began questioning whether he was cut out to handle big-time Division I football.
The weight of the world collapsed on his shoulders, and Scott started feeling as if no one was happy about him or cared about him.
He left campus intending to drop out and get a job — only he lacked the initiative even to do that.
“I have no clue at all what I’d have done,” Scott said. “That’s why I knew I had to come back and finish up.”
That still required some convincing.
The next morning, Burnett picked up Scott and took him to breakfast, hoping a round of Bojangles biscuits would raise Scott’s spirits. But Burnett grew more worried when Scott nibbled on just one.
“We just talked about what he was going to do then, and I really had no answers,” Burnett said. “We just talked about letting other people down and getting through tough times. I don’t think I had any answers. I was trying to find anything.”
Burnett spent the better part of two days in Scott’s bedroom, attempting to reason with someone to whom logic seemingly had no relevance.
Scott said he gradually reached the conclusion he needed to return to school, and after four days, Burnett saw him off.
“I really think, and we all go through it at different stages, you reach that crossroad in life with what you really want to do,” Burnett said. “We all think we know our way in college, know what we want to be, and it might have been a little tougher than he thought physically. And he probably thought, where am I going to go with this? We all hit that point in careers, too.
“He just had a moment of doubt, I think. But Clemson then did an excellent job of opening their arms to him — not catering to him or babying him, but being there for him while also expecting him to own up to his end of the deal.”
A HARD BARGAIN
His end of the deal — that is the explanation Scott’s Seattle-based agent, Paul Lawrence, gives for why Scott took the unconventional approach to the draft.
The majority of projected draftees leave campus before the spring semester in order to work out.
Scott, though, was two classes shy of his sociology degree after his final season.
Instead of opting to finish college later, Scott remained at Clemson to take math and sociology classes, saying he does not like to leave jobs unfinished.
Furthermore, he will become the first person in his immediate family to earn a college diploma.
“He’s doing what he promised his mother he would do,” Lawrence said. “And it’s working out for him. He performed well at the combine, and teams are very interested in him.”
After his junior season, Scott sought a draft projection from the NFL’s underclassmen advisory committee and was pegged as a possible fourth-rounder.
But much like the team’s first-half descent, Scott sensed his pro stock dropping when he was largely a nonfactor because, he said, he tried to do too much to compensate for the absence of injured tackle Rashaad Jackson.
Scott turned it on the second half of the season and carried the momentum into pre-draft workouts.
Despite sticking around Clemson to train, he tied for the second-best 40-yard dash time (4.97 seconds) among interior tackles at February’s NFL Combine and ranked 11th among defensive linemen in number of 225-pound bench-presses (29).
When he reached his Indianapolis hotel room, two teams — St. Louis and Kansas City — were waiting to meet with him.
For better or worse, Scott has been typecast as a nose guard for teams that use a 3-4 defensive scheme.
The position typically is filled by heavier, wide-bodied linemen who possess the strength to occupy multiple offensive linemen, freeing linebackers to make plays.
Those teams generally place a premium on drafting defensive front-seven players higher than their perceived value because of their scarcity.
Both ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said last week they viewed Scott as a fifth-round value. But neither would be surprised if Scott was selected in the third round.
“He’s got some talent, but he didn’t have the consistency and production people had hoped for,” Mayock said. “But he is a fairly talented kid, and it is a bad defensive tackle year. So he’s a kid who could get pushed up.”
Said Kiper: “He’s a big body, and that’s what you want. For a big kid, he’s got athletic ability, there’s no question about that. ... He’s not the consummate guy; if he was, he’d be a first- or second-round pick. But he has a chance to be a major contributor because of the need for that type of player and for how scarce they are at the college level.”
Scott met with representatives from New England and Philadelphia on campus while visiting Miami and the New York Jets. Last week, he went to Pittsburgh on Tuesday then spent Thursday and Friday in Dallas, his final scheduled interview.
All are a long way from home, he admits. But having options beats the dead-end path Scott foresaw had he not trusted Burnett’s advice.
“Just making all these trips to talk to teams, (it) reality hit me that I’m about to play with the big boys,” Scott said. “Everything has worked out.”
He's a Ram now .. Hopefully he'll be able to contribute this season. His forty time is very quick for a man of his size .. Let's hope he can put that big man's speed to good use chasing down opposing quarterbacks!
Re: Clemson draft: NFL dreams the end of a long road for Scott
I hope he turns into a great pro. I hope he will learn to self motivate to become a great player. If he can give 100% he'll be good.
J. Kennedy had all the physical tools but just didn't care, just went through the motions as a player.
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