Fairfax junior Nick Scott is one of the most highly-recruited football players in the area, but hardly anybody in the Liberty District has heard of him.
The running back’s talent prompted Boston College to extend him a scholarship offer this summer, while schools such as Alabama, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, West Virginia and Penn State also have shown interest.
Yet any mention of his name in Northern Virginia elicits blank stares.
Scott won’t remain a mystery much longer — not with Fairfax’s season set to kick off Friday night against Annandale. That contest will give the Rebels’ new starting tailback a chance to showcase his talents before a home crowd. Just how long it takes him to equate this new environment with home remains to be seen.
Scott moved to the area this year after making a name for himself at Brookline High School, an 1,800 student public school just outside Boston. Despite sitting out three games with a fractured ankle, he finished his sophomore season with more than 1,200 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, in addition to more than 400 yards passing and four more scores.
Now the junior transfer finds himself enmeshed in the Liberty District, a division he admits he knows nothing about. One thing he has noticed, however, is an uptick in competition.
“The biggest difference I’ve seen so far in scrimmages is speed and intensity,” said Scott, whose father prompted the move when he got a new job at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Washington, D.C. “In Massachusetts they had athletes, but they didn’t necessarily put the time in during the summer to get big and get faster. So it’s a lot faster and a lot more intense out here.”
Scott toured several area schools, including Lake Braddock and Oakton, before settling on Fairfax. His decision ultimately had little to do with football, as he selected Fairfax based on its academic standards and the sense of ease he felt walking through its hallways.
Scott’s choice has been welcomed with open arms by teammates and coaches alike, all of whom have admired his proactive attitude.
“For him to sit there and stay after to learn the plays and ask teammates to show him how things are done and have that trust, I think a lot of our guys have really keyed into that,” coach Kevin Simonds said. “Coming in not only to learn it but also to absorb it so quickly has been impressive.”
During last year’s 4-7 season at Brookline, Scott grew accustomed to standing out. This year, though, he joins a pool of talent harboring the potential for a playoff run. Few expect the Rebels to go stride for stride with district power Stone Bridge, but they might have enough depth at skill positions to sneak by teams such as Madison and Langley. Senior quarterback Austin Black complements Scott’s playmaking ability with a strong arm, and senior tight end/defensive end John Koch has the ability to make an impact on both sides of the ball.
Don’t expect Scott’s contributions to come solely out of the backfield this season; his 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash and raw athleticism make him a threat at just about any position. At Brookline, Scott played running back, quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback and safety. Simonds plans on using Scott mostly as a running back, but also plans on sending him out wide as a receiver and occasionally testing his abilities in the defensive backfield.
“When he gets in the open field he’s not going to get caught,” Simonds said. “He’s going to be a huge weapon for us. There’s going to be no hiding him once film gets traded and people start seeing him. He’s definitely going to be a threat, and it’s our job to make sure we’re using him in the best way possible to make the team successful.”
Athleticism might have been ingrained in Scott at birth, but it was cultivated from an early age by a father who wanted to see his kids play football just like he did. Scott’s oldest brother, Irvin, is a starting junior cornerback at Holy Cross, and his other brother trained with him every day this past summer.
“Truly one of the reasons why I think me and my brothers are so athletic is because as soon as we could walk, my father was in the backyard with us, throwing footballs, tackling us,” Scott said. “So from then on we’ve all loved the game.”
While Scott’s ability to break down defenders in the open field has quickly garnered attention, he might have won the respect of his teammates more for his workman’s mentality. Whether in the weight room or on the field, Scott typically is the first one to arrive and the last to leave, and he is the first to jump up whenever coaches need a volunteer for the scout team. That has pleased Simonds more than anything, because the prospect of transfers always cause coaches to worry about how such players will mesh with new teammates.
Scott knows he can offer the kind of physical ability few others can, but he relies more on the strength of his character than on the drive in his legs.
“I’ll bring a positive attitude,” Scott said. “I’m always trying to keep guys up, trying to keep guys moving forward.”