Q&A with Rutgers GA Scott Vallone

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- From star defensive lineman to Rutgers graduate assistant, Scott Vallone discusses his return to the Scarlet Knights during media day from High Point Solutions Stadium. Vallone details his coaching transformation and special role with the R position.

Sam Hellman -- How’s coaching life?

Scott Vallone – “It’s good. I’m happy that I’m doing this. I don’t work for a living. It’s the right career path and a good choice that I made. I did bust my butt trying to get a degree in economics for four years. I got a degree in a tough major, but I ended up coaching because it’s something I’m passionate about. It’s something I love. You see me out on the field, it’s pretty apparent. I’m glad to be back here as well because it’s home.

SH -- Now that you’re a coach, do you understand why yours used to get so mad at you?

SV -- “It’s not mad as much as intensity. That’s the key word you would use. You’re seeing the intensity of what’s going on. I understood that when I was coaching high school two years ago. I definitely understand that now. It’s obviously something to make my own way back here. I get that.”

SH -- There’s a huge New York influence in this program from coaches to players, recruits, yourself. Why do you think that’s the case?

SV -- “Well, the head coach is from New York. That goes without saying, I guess. It’s the No. 1, closest college program to New York City. New York City being the No. 1 media market in the world, I think that says a lot. You want people that are from that area. New York City and Long Island has been good to this program. Obviously the West Chester area and all the way up the state. Even Brian Leonard up in the north country, I was 20 minutes from his place when I was [coaching] at St. Lawrence. He’s legendary up there. I think it’s important to have that influence as well as the guys from Jersey that are on the staff.”

SH -- It’s clear from watching practice that you’re taking Kemoko Turay under your wing. What are your goals there?

SV -- “It’s a great relationship. Throughout the spring and the summer program, we developed a relationship. We developed a trust. All of the players want a coach that, at the end of the day can you make me a better player? That’s what I want. I’m trying to show him that you trust me, trust coach [Jim] Panagos, we can make you a better player. We can help him take that next step from a third-down impact guy to an impact guy on first and second down as well. Those are the things that we’ve been talking about. When you see us working 1-on-1 before practice, it’s not pass rush emphasis. We’re working on run game stuff. He can rush, and we’re working on getting him better at that as well. He can make an impact on first and second down too, and he’s doing a great job.”

SH -- Obviously coach Flood is your boss, but you also work directly under coach Panagos. What’s he like to work with?

SV -- “I’ll tell you what, he’s low maintenance. At the end of the day, he’s all about intensity, effort, enthusiasm. If you don’t bring that to this room, then you’re in the wrong spot. Those are things, I think, that he expects of me. He expects me to coach those R’s and to teach them and make sure they know what the heck is going on. It’s a great dynamic. I’ve played for him, and I think there’s a trust level there mutually. It’s been good so far.”

SH -- You’ve seen the Greg Schiano and Kyle Flood versions of Rutgers. What differences are there?

SV -- “That’s a good question.”

SH -- It took me long enough.

SV -- “The fact that coach Flood is from New York, he brings a New York influence. Obviously coach Schiano was an intense guy. There was a presence. He was loud and he was animated at practice. Coach Flood kind of manages from the field. He’s the boss, but he lets things happen. He’s not a pushover at all. He’s a little bit more relaxed, but that doesn’t mean he’s a pushover. There’s that same discipline in the program. There’s that same intensity, but it’s just two different personalities at the helm of the program.”

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