Nick Scott Evolving Into Seasoned Leader For Penn State
Nick Scott has done it all in a Penn State uniform, lining up at kick returner and running back before switching to safety prior to the 2016 season.
Now, as a graduate senior, Scott is poised to start alongside Garrett Taylor in a secondary that is replacing four starters from last year’s Fiesta Bowl championship team but is nonetheless loaded with talent.
The Fairfax, VA, native is heading into his second season as a captain for the Nittany Lions. Cornerbacks coach Terry Smith complimented Scott’s impact on the field and in the locker room following last Wednesday’s practice.
“There’s a couple big things that stand out,” Smith said. “One is his leadership and two is his athleticism. He’s one of the best athletes on the team, and he and Trace are our best two leaders on the team.”
Scott has routinely put the team first during his Penn State career, playing a significant role in all three phases of the game at one point or another. His lone rushing touchdown came against Army in 2015 on an 11-yard run in the rain.
The psychology grad also scooped up a fumble and returned it for a score during last year’s 45-14 win over Indiana at Beaver Stadium. Scott singled out Shareef Miller and Koa Farmer as veterans who have helped him set the standard for the younger players in training camp.
“In past years I’ve been a leader, more so on special teams, and that was kind of my expertise,” Scott said. “Now I’m stepping into a new role. Just getting my voice on the defensive side and leaning on guys like Shareef and Koa, who have a lot of experience, is something I’m trying to do this season.”
Scott always seems to be having a good time with his teammates during pregame warmups. He said bringing a positive mindset to the defense is one of his main priorities aside from dissecting plays on the fly and laying the lumber, as he’s been known to do from time to time.
“I view myself as a guy who can keep people’s morale high,” Scott said. “As long as I can come in and keep smiling and hone in on my role, I think that’s one of my best qualities.”
Scott, who held additional scholarship offers from Nebraska, South Florida, and Boston College coming out of Fairfax High School, finished last season with the 10th most tackles on Penn State’s defense with 33.
He said the return of senior linebacker Manny Bowen, who was reinstated to the team by James Franklin at the beginning of camp, has been a welcome development.
“We all love Manny. We’re glad to have him back in our locker room,” Scott said. “Of course we were excited because we know what he can do.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Scott mentioned redshirt freshman receiver KJ Hamler as a player who has continued to turn heads after a standout spring.
“KJ Hamler, he’s a guy who’s very explosive, which is fun to watch. He’s going to be a good talent here. He works hard. But really the thing that stands out to me most is just his speed and his athleticism.”
Taylor, John Reid, and Amani Oruwariye will join Scott in what should be another strong defensive backfield this season, especially considering the array of young talent lurking behind them.
Scott has long been a key cog in Penn State’s success as a team, but the 2018 season will be his opportunity to show NFL decision makers why he should be selected to play on Sundays like his former teammates Troy Apke and Marcus Allen.
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ESPN’s signature pregame show will return to the iconic Old Main Lawn on Saturday morning.
Gene Rockey — an employee in Copy Services for the past 26 years — will retire this week after more than 30 years of service to Penn State.
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