Coming out of spring training, to be blunt, sophomore Defensive Tackle Lawon Scott was overweight and out of the picture, despite having played some as a true freshman in 2007.
That didn't set well with him.
"I knew I had to do something," said Scott. "So I started eating better and working harder and it paid off."
Paid off, indeed, but not at first when fall camp rolled around.
When starting DT Peria Jerry went down - the first time - with a knee injury, it was assumed Lawon, with his previous experience, would move up to number one.
Surprise. . . true freshman Justin Smith leapfrogged him and Lawon was left holding the bag.
He kept plugging. Again, the effort paid off. The next time Peria injured his knee, Lawon was promoted to number one DT.
"In the second scrimmage, Lawon made a lot of plays and started to show what we expected of him," said Coach Houston Nutt. "We knew it was in him somewhere, but it took some time to surface."
Lawon noticed the difference too.
"After I lost the extra weight (22 pounds), I was quicker and could run better," Scott said. "When Peria went down the second time, I felt I was ready to make a move because my conditioning was better and I felt good about what I had done in the summer and it was starting to show."
Lawon credits Rocker for a lot of that improvement.
"Coach Rocker gets you to work hard every day. He expects a lot of us and accepts nothing less," Scott noted. "If you want to play, just do what he says and everything will fall in place."
Scott feels the personnel available for the opener is ready to take up the slack for the injured Jerry and DE Greg Hardy.
"The extra reps we all have gotten with them out has helped us," he added. "You always miss guys like that, but I believe we can take up the slack. We've prepared to do that.
"I can tell a difference in last year and this year in my confidence. Last year, I didn't think I was ready to do my best out there. This year I am confident and I'm playing a lot faster."
Lawon thinks the Rebel fan base is in for a pleasant surprise.
"We've all talked about how the fans seem worried about Peria and Greg being out and how we want to show them we are going to get it done in their absence," he added. "We've all just taken on bigger roles and it's worked out fine so far."
Lawon Scott didn't want to win the starting job at the expense of teammate Peria Jerry's injury, but now that the opportunity has presented itself, he plans on taking advantage of it.
"All of us want everyone to know we can do the job and take up the slack. We'll show that Saturday against Memphis," he closed. "And when Peria gets back, we'll be that much stronger and deeper."
Lawon Scott -
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