After Monday’s player interviews, LSU running back Charles Scott started to head to the locker room before a reporter grabbed the senior and asked him one final question.
“Is it safe to say that you and Keiland Williams are best friends,” the reporter asked.
Scott’s answer was quick, and straight to the point.
“Oh yeah, no doubt.”
To understand the relationship, and where it has taken them, you have to reflect back upon their time in purple and gold.
The tandem has been a staple of the LSU backfield for three seasons, each a part of LSU head coach Les Miles’ 2006 signing class.
In his freshman season, Scott racked up 277 yards and five touchdowns on just 46 carries. Against Tulane in week four, he recorded a 101-yard rushing game – the quickest true freshman to 100 yards since Kevin Faulk in 1995. The following year Scott became a dual-threat as he totaled 324 yards on the ground, 115 yards through the air and seven total touchdowns.
During his freshman campaign, Williams finished as the Tigers’ second-leading rusher. Despite just one start, he picked up 426 yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries. The following season, he matched those totals when he ran for 478 yards and six touchdowns on 70 carries – highlighted by a 126-yard, two-touchdown performance against Virginia Tech.
Through two seasons of football, Scott and Williams – running mates on and off the field – had not just made their mark, but won a National Championship while doing so.
In 2008, however, the separation began. With struggles at quarterback, the Tigers needed a reliable runner who could – essentially – carry the offensive workload.
Williams, who was unable to put together a string of solid outings, finished with 417 yards and two touchdowns on 83 carries. Scott, who started all 13 games at tailback, finished with 1,174 yards and a Southeastern Conference-best 18 rushing touchdowns, one shy of LaBrandon Toefield’s school record (19) set in 2001.
For the first time in their career, Scott and Williams were no longer young running backs looking to find an identity in a crowded LSU backfield. Now, Scott was one of the nation’s most touted runners, while Williams went through the offseason with something to prove.
Of course, college football is no different than the real world. Expect the unexpected.
After fullback Quinn Johnson was lost to graduation, Tiger running backs coach Larry Porter eyed a group that included sophomore Stevan Ridley, freshman Dominique Allen and walk-ons Richard Dugas - a converted lineman - and James Stampley.
As if the lack of experience at the spot were not enough, ACL injuries sidelined both Ridley and Dugas through the spring and summer. Dugas has seen limited action through two games this fall, while Ridley has been out of the picture.
After one of the most productive running back seasons in LSU history, Scott became the answer at fullback – and he could not be happier.
“It is the truth, I really don’t mind,” Scott said. “As soon as I got to LSU it was a thing where me and [Jacob] Hester were the fullbacks and tailbacks. I have played it before, so I don’t mind playing it now.”
Certainly, fans eat up quotes like those from Scott; when a player is willing to put the team before anything else at any moment. Yet, when a coach hears those words spoken during the heat of battle, it takes on a whole new meaning.
Last Saturday against Vanderbilt, after Williams punched in the game’s opening touchdown with 2:12 to play in the first quarter, Scott – who lined up at fullback during the drive – jogged over to his headman and made a simple request.
“I told Miles to keep me at fullback; I wanted Keiland to get the touches,” Scott said. “When I got in at fullback, [Vanderbilt] would scream ‘32’. If I pull and we can pitch to Keiland and can score, then let’s keep doing it.”
Miles did just that, and by night’s end Williams had totaled 73 yards and two scores. Scott, who remains without a touchdown on the season, also went over the 50-yard mark for the second straight game.
“I think there is an ability that Scott has and that this team needs for him to play a little at fullback,” Miles said. “I think that will happen really for the rest of the season. He is a team guy; he has always been.
“I enjoy it, because one thing about Charles is that he does not lack the confidence to want to be on the field. He also pursues special teams on a pretty regular basis, so he’s just a guy that wants to play.”
One year removed from the most prolific rushing performance of the Miles era, how does Scott take the news of a more permanent move to fullback?
“It was easy,” he said. “I rushed for almost 1,200 yards last year. Well, we were 8-5. Something was wrong, regardless of what I was doing. If we had to switch something up, so be it. It means a lot, especially if what you do is helping your team do more.”
What you won’t see from the stands or television or radio, however, are the thoughts that are running through Scott’s head as he lines up at fullback with Williams – his “best friend” and running mate for three seasons – right behind him.
“To get to this point in my career, and be able to share it with close friends like Keiland, means everything,” Scott said.