Most Valuable Wildcats — No. 3: Tyler Scott

Our Most Valuable Wildcats feature continues with No. 3, Tyler Scott.

When Northwestern evaluates football recruits, the staff often looks for the most elusive trait: Versatility.

You see that in the current class of 2014 as well. Many players will switch positions during their transition to college. Dan Vitale went from a two-star safety to his current spot at superback. Others, if they have the size, will hopefully move from outside linebacker to defensive end.

Again, in that memorable forum post, everyone half-jokingly debated whether Noah Furbush could be the brand-new Tyler Scott. Though Furbush in particular might be difficult to land, the point remains. After Scott's departure, the Wildcats will look to replace his excellent production.

Scott won NU's Defensive MVP award last season, and it was well deserved. He added an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, but this season, he's primed to crack the actual ranks. If the rising senior defensive end improves even more, then opposing quarterbacks might as well commence the panic.

The Gator Bowl victory provided the sign of even greater things to come. The dogged Scott pressured Tyler Russell throughout the game, tallying sacks and helping the unit force him into many other poor decisions. Scott is the pass rusher this team so badly needed; his nine sacks ranked second in the Big Ten and his consistency plagued opposing offenses.

The Warren (Ohio) Howland HS product arguably emerged as one of the breakout players in the process. He contributed in 2011, and overcame some injuries to show flashes. But he put the league on notice in the second game of 2012. Against Vanderbilt, he had six tackles–two for loss–and forced a key fumble late in the momentum-building win.

The Wildcats will have to replace Quentin Williams opposite Scott, and they appear poised to do so. Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson could easily step in, as could Ifeadi Odenigbo, and make the pass rush even more formidable.

It's nice, though, to have that high-ceiling end already established. It can help wear in the brand new starter, and with more improvement, we might even be calling Scott the most valuable player on the team. First team All-Big Ten: it's well within reach.

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