The enormity of being one of Penn State’s captains is not lost on safety/special teams ace Nick Scott.
“It’s a little bit of a heavy feeling,” he said, “but it’s a good heavy feeling.”
He wants the burden. He welcomes it.
“It almost made everything about this program so much more personal for me, and it made me feel that I’m just that much more a part of our success or failure, for that matter,” he said. http://www.scout.com/college/penn-state/story/1770430-psu-football-recru...
The upcoming season in particular.
“My growth and our growth as a team is a lot more personal,” he said again. “That’s something people are going to look back at, and see our success and failure, and obviously attribute it to leadership. Leadership is a huge part of success.”
The redshirt junior was named a captain, along with quarterback Trace McSorley and middle linebacker Jason Cabinda, at the beginning of spring practice. Scott’s selection is a surprise only to those of us on the outside, only to those who consider superficial things like statistics.
A closer look would indicate that he is well-qualified for the role. While he has made exactly one career start to date, he has changed positions without complaint, moving from running back to the secondary last spring.
He has also been a willing special teamer, to the point that he earned the John Bruno Award in 2015 as the Lions’ MVP in that phase of the game. And there are other smaller things, like the fact that he out-lifted the others at his position in winter conditioning between the ’15 and ’16 seasons, or that he honored injured teammate Von Walker by wearing his No. 25 jersey in the ’16 regular-season finale against Michigan State.
So while Scott did not openly campaign to be a captain, it was clear by his every action that he was destined to be one. (Ditto for his membership on the 30-player leadership council, identified in a news release Tuesday as “the voice of the team.”)
“I felt like my play and my attitude toward the team, from freshman year ‘til now, has always been positive,” Scott said, “and I think a lot of people knew I was willing to do whatever I could for the success of the program, on and off the field. And I think those are some key things you want a captain to encompass.”
His only start to date came at running back in 2015, at Indiana. He finished that season with 30 carries for 133 yards, 13 kickoff returns for 310 and even two completions in as many attempts.
He welcomed the move to defense, however.
“It didn’t take too long before I realized, hey, maybe I’ve been a defensive guy my whole tenure as a football player; I just didn’t know it,” he said. “Once I moved to defense I realized this is probably actually where my home is, especially considering how reckless I like to play, how aggressive I am and my ball skills.”
Malik Golden, who started alongside Marcus Allen at safety last season, immediately took Scott under his wing, to the point that Scott called him his “godfather.” Now Golden is gone, and Scott would appear to be a candidate to fill that position, along with Troy Apke (“a guy that knows the defense inside and out,” Scott said) and Ayron Monroe (“one of the most athletic guys on our team”).
Scott realizes his transition to defensive back is still a work in progress. So since the end of last season he has been studying video with Allen or the other more-experienced safeties. He has been shagging balls from the JUGS machine before practice. He feels he’s improved, largely in terms of his “defensive IQ,” as he put it.
“I’m just a lot more comfortable,” he said.
But no matter his role, he will do some heavy lifting. And he welcomes the burden.
Scott had rave reviews for the newest member of the Penn State secondary, 2017 early enrollee Lamont Wade. The five-star cornerback prospect from Clairton, Pa., is poised to contribute as a rookie.
“I think Lamont is killing it at corner right now,” Scott said.
Scott added that Wade, who has taken some reps this spring with the starters, is “very confident” and “has a little mean streak to him.”
And, Scott added, “I think he’s going to be one of those guys that really helps contribute his first year here.”