published Monday, August 17th, 2009

Scott emerging for Vols


by Wes Rucker
Audio clip

Chris Scott

KNOXVILLE -- Even Chris Scott couldn't remember the last time he'd spoke with the media.

"It's been a while," he said. "No offense."

University of Tennessee coaches won't care who their senior left offensive tackle speaks with if he keeps playing like he has throughout preseason camp.

The offense wasn't at its best in Saturday's second major scrimmage, but the 6-foot-5 Scott couldn't help but crack smile after smile when asked about his torrid August performance.

"I feel good," Scott said. "These coaches, they make you feel good. With their enthusiasm, you've got no choice but to have it rub off on you. It rubs off on me, and I just go out there and try to play as hard as I can.

"My confidence is sky-rocketed right now."

Scott's mere agreement to meet the media raised eyebrows in the sports information department, whose officials have grown accustomed to the player's polite rejections.

But Scott didn't just chat Saturday. He laughed like an Original King of Comedy.

Scott -- a quiet person on and off the field, according to dozens of teammates the past few years -- has slowly come out of his mammoth shell under Lane Kiffin's coaching staff.

And that attitude adjustment, he said, has strengthened his game.

"I think with me, it's been more mental," Scott said. "I had to get a few things down and get my mind right -- you know, change how I saw life. It was just a few things here and there I had to change with my mental aspect and how I looked at things.

"Once I changed that up, I went into summer real fresh. I took it as a fresh beginning for everything. That was Day 1, and then I went from there, and it's zoomed."

Scott, whose weight has fluctuated like early East Tennessee fall weather, recently underwent a drastic downgrade to approximately 320 pounds. The former super recruit from the Atlanta area had weighed as much as 370 early in his career.

"He's gotten so much better," junior defensive end Chris Walker said of Scott. "His intensity and his technique have gotten so much better. It's just making me a better player going against Chris, because he lost a bunch of weight and got down to a weight he can really move at, and he's doing it really well."

Offensive line coach James Cregg often all-but-begs Scott to speak up on the field and in the lockerroom, claiming the team always responds when the notoriously-quiet big man opens his mouth.

Slowly, Scott is getting there.

"Chris talks a little bit," Walker said. It just has to be something really good for Chris to pipe up. Most of the time, it's just a little smile or a little giggle or something."

What about when Walker wins?

"Then it's just the same old quiet Chris," Walker said.

But those battles are more 50-50 than the spring, when Walker often waltzed around Scott to rack up sacks.

"We were sitting in our meetings going over personnel, and the guy that continues to play well every single day, probably the most improved from spring, is Chris Scott," Kiffin said last week. "So we're very excited about what he's doing and the way he's playing."

The way Scott's talking is turning heads, too.

"When he does (talk), it's contagious to the team," Cregg added. "He rarely does it. He usually keeps to himself, but when he smiles, guys get in the groove and have fun with him.

"And when he speaks, people really listen, because he's not a vocal guy."

about Wes Rucker...

Twitter - @wesrucker Facebook - /tfpvolsbeat

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