Family big reason Scott winds up at Penn State
Nick Scott grew up a huge fan of Penn State football, and he had his first chance to attend a Nittany Lion game when he was 4 years old.
“My brother’s god brother, Corey Jones, was a wide receiver at Penn State. My family’s really close to his family, and they actually invited us to a game,” Scott said. “My father and my brothers went, but I was a little young.
“I wanted to come, but somehow I got persuaded by a toy car rather than going to Beaver Stadium.”
Scott might have turned down Penn State once, but he wasn’t going to do it again. Thirteen years later, he finally made that trip to University Park, and he ended up returning to his suburban Washington, D.C. home as a Nittany Lion.
Scott, the standout 6-foot, 185-pound junior running back for Fairfax High School in Virginia, made a verbal commitment to the Lions after visiting Penn State on Saturday as part of a large gathering of top underclassmen. He became the second prospect to join the Lions’ 2014 recruiting class.
“It was my love for Penn State and growing up watching them and wanting to play there,” Scott said of his reason for choosing the Lions over Boston College, Virginia and Maryland. “It was all that, plus when I got up there and saw the stadium and met the coaches. Bill O’Brien is a very good coach. He’s accomplished so much in his career already. The whole coaching staff is so wonderful. And the team is so family-oriented. There’s this feeling that they’re just one, and it’s a great academic school.
“Everything just came together, and I knew right then and there that this is the school.”
Of course, it had been known for quite some time that Penn State had a leg up on everyone else when it came to landing Scott. Scott grew up in Lancaster before moving to Brookline, Mass. when he was 11.
“To be honest, my whole family was Penn State fans. I guess I was just born into it,” Scott said with a laugh. “Everybody I knew was a Penn State fan. I really became a diehard Penn State fan probably when I started to get into football when I was in kindergarten.”
Scott had three favorite Nittany Lions growing up: Derrick Williams, Daryll Clark and Evan Royster, whose one-cut, fall-forward running style he said is similar to his own.
Scott doesn’t quite possess the size Royster had, but he also has something the Nittany Lions’ all-time leading rusher lacked – game-breaking speed. A sprinter and jumper in track back in Massachusetts, Scott has been hand-timed at 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash and said he’s consistently around 4.5.
Scott had 1,164 total yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior for the 5-5 Rebels, rushing for 932 yards on just 80 carries in his first season as a fulltime running back after playing quarterback since he took up the sport.
He had game of 246 yards on the ground against South Lakes and 227 yards against Madison, and he scored three touchdowns on seven touches in the season-opener with Annandale.
“You could see the speed, you could see the cutting ability, but there were just some things he had about him that made you go, ‘We’ve got something special. Let’s not screw this up,'” Fairfax coach Kevin Simonds said. “He came in and really made an impact.”
Simonds said it happened from Day 1, when, right after transferring in, Scott showed up first for weightlifting, then stayed and helped the freshmen players during their session. Symonds gave Scott the highest marks for his character.
“A lot of our guys, by the second game of the season, were looking at him like one of our senior captains, even though he was only a junior,” Simonds said.
Boston College was Scott’s only scholarship offer besides Penn State early in the recruiting process, but a lot of other colleges were taking notice. He had been a guest of Alabama for a game last fall.
“It’s a great school and a great facility, but I was telling my parents while I was up there that, while Alabama is great, I just didn’t feel that Alabama is me,” said Scott, who plans to major in psychology, English or business at Penn State and who has an older brother playing at Holy Cross. “I was just way more comfortable at Penn State.”
In fact, Scott already is making himself at home at University Park. He made friends with 2013 recruits Christian Hackenberg and Brendan Mahon during his visit, as well as Lion freshman running back Akeel Lynch.
Scott also decided to give a shout-out to Penn State fans this week on Twitter and got more than he bargained for – about 300 new followers in a few minutes.
“They really amaze me,” Scott said. “I had no idea Penn State’s fan base was so deep. Oh my goodness.”