Tyler Scott would say the process begins with effort and intensity. When he arrived at Northwestern, few could have expected the two-star recruit to one day emerge as the Big Ten's preeminent pass rusher.
After two solid but quiet seasons, Scott became something else in 2012, picking up nine sacks and a somewhat conservative honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. So when you talk about "replacing leadership"–an immediate priority after losing that terrific senior class–Scott falls right in line.
"I just want to show the guys how to work," he said at Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday. "I wasn't a top recruit coming out of high school, but I've worked my butt off. I think that's how I've been put in the position I am. It doesn't take a lot of talent to be great."
Modest as he is, Scott reflects the NU mindset better than nearly anyone. He converted to defensive end and worked his way into the rotation. And really, you can't overstate the importance of leadership. Every single victory seemed to follow with Pat Fitzgerald praising those mentally tough seniors.
They were, quite simply, angry about the disappointing 6-7 season one year before. Other teams can fall victim to complacency, but seniors–including Quentin Williams and David Nwabuisi–constantly held the team to lofty standards. It's the top-down approach, with Fitzgerald, the coaches and the seniors holding this impossible belief in place.
"Without [the seniors], we wouldn't be here today," Scott said. "It's learning from them and upping the intensity, focusing on those last-second plays where we needed to improve. We know how close we are."
The adjusted Leadership Council continues to discuss exactly how the 2012 seniors set the tone for success. And much of that draws back to the quiet leadership typical of players like Scott. They emphasize the team concepts and foster the "winning mentality." This outlook is growing to be the standard.
"They wanted to build the camaraderie, which was a huge component of why we were successful last year," Scott said. "They brought our team so close. We talked about it as a Leadership Council and with Coach Fitz."
The miniature of an NU football player, Scott battled for recognition and that worked out. It takes the real-life examples for this "leadership" approach to work. You look around the Big Ten, and there need be no more comment: It's not like this on every sideline.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Big Ten Media Days.