At 5'7, 167 pounds, former Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott doesn't have the build of a prototypical NFL running back. But for a team looking for a speedy playmaker who is willing to line up wherever he's asked, the Miami native says he's worth a draft pick.
Due to size concerns and an injury-hampered senior season, Scott isn't expected to hear his name called on draft day. After running for 846 yards and six touchdowns as junior, leg injuries in the back half of his senior season limited him to 493 yards and two touchdowns. When healthy, however, Scott showed electric speed and a propensity for the dramatic. His 75-yard touchdown run in the final minute against Vanderbilt sealed Ole Miss's opening victory, and his 73-yard punt return against Texas provided the momentum shift the Rebels needed to grab a huge early-season win in Austin.
For a team willing to look past his dimensions, Scott could prove a dangerous weapon at the next level. He sat down with SB Nation to discuss his draft preparation, a possible position change and his thoughts on the growing prevalence of spread concepts in the NFL.
Where are you nowadays? How are you preparing for the draft?
I'm in Oxford. I'm in school pushing to get my degree. I'm a general studies major and my minor is psychology and criminal justice.
I'm training with my strength and conditioning coach, Paul Jackson. We're training five days out of the week. I'm basically preparing stuff like my 40 yard dash and vertical jump. Basically just working on what we'll do on pro day. And I'm meeting with my track coach about twice a week. Everything's going pretty good. I feel pretty confident.
Do you expect to be drafted?
I'm not sure exactly how the draft is going to go. I'm not sure if I'll go late or go free agent. I just played in the College All Star Bowl a week ago in South Carolina. I had a pretty good game. Right after that game, I was on the way back to Oxford, and I got a call from the Rams. They told me they'd given me a pretty good draft grade.
What do you say to those that believe you're too small to play in the NFL?
I've been playing football since I was a kid and I've been hearing that all my life. It doesn't really affect me. I just play my game, you know what I mean? I had a pretty successful career at Ole Miss playing in the SEC. I don't really pay attention to that when people say I'm undersized because I know I have drive and I have heart. I just use it for motivation. I just go out of my way to work harder and prove that I'm durable and that I can handle it.
Injuries kept you out of four games your senior year and limited you for most of the back half of the season. Do you think that will hurt your stock?
I think it can hurt my draft stock. They may have a question mark on my durability. But like I told you, I had a pretty good game at the all-star game and after the game I felt pretty good. I could have played another game the next day. I'm just going to keep training and control what I can control.
Another diminutive former Ole Miss running back, Dexter McCluster, is coming off of an All-Pro season. Does his success at the next level provide inspiration for you?
It definitely does. Dexter McCluster was actually in the league before I chose to come to Ole Miss. At the time [he was playing his senior year at Ole Miss], I was a senior in high school and was committed to FIU. Once Ole Miss started recruiting me I started watching the games and I saw Dexter McCluster. I was like 'okay, this guy is the same size as me; the fast, shifty type.' Everything I saw him doing at Ole Miss, I pictured myself doing. I admire Dex. I love the way he plays. He's an exciting player and an explosive guy.
McCluster transitioned almost exclusively into a slot receiver for the Chiefs last season. Do you think you're capable of making a similar position change if called upon to do so?
I've thought about it. I definitely think I can transition from a running back to a receiver in the NFL. I think I can do it. But at the end of the day, whatever team I end up with; [I'll play] wherever they need me. If they need me to run down there on kickoffs, I'm doing it. I just want to help them win.
What role do you think you play on an NFL team?
I think I'll fit in maybe as a third down back. Do some screen plays, stretch plays. Maybe line up in the slot like Dex, run some routes, try to match up on the linebackers. Then special teams: kick return, punt return. I bring a lot to the game, so I think my versatility helps me out a lot.
I have been practicing catching kicks and punts with the JUGS machine and running routes with our quarterback, Barry Brunetti. So that helps a lot.
You see guys like Chip Kelly introducing some college-style spread concepts into the NFL. As a guy that played out of the spread for two seasons with Hugh Freeze, do you think the growing prevalence of those concepts helps you out?
I definitely think that gives me an advantage. All my life I've been running out of the pro style offense, and actually my junior year was my first time running spread. My running back coach, Derrick Nix, did a great job helping transition to that kind of offense. I had a pretty good junior year, rushing for about 900 yards. I started off with a bang my senior year, until I ended up getting injured. So with those type of coaches in the NFL, that definitely gives me an advantage because for the last two years I've been running this offense.
Do you think having that combination of experience in the pro-style and the spread gives you an advantage?
I definitely think it will. I don't know where I'll end up. I might end up in a traditional pro-style offense, I may end up in more of a spread. It gives me an advantage, playing in both systems.
What do you think will be the biggest adjustment you'll have to make in the NFL?
Of course, learn the offense. Learning the plays. I think that's really the biggest thing.
Character scouting has become a major focus in the today's draft process. You haven't had to deal with those types of concerns yourself, but as a prospect, what do you think when you see guys labeled as character issues?
I don't really think about it. I try to focus on the positive things. I think people should take the time to actually get to know the person for themselves. You can't go on what other people say all the time. I like to meet a lot of people. I'm a friendly person, that's just how I am. I like to make people laugh. So I definitely think people should take the time to actually get to know them.