Jeff Scott knew by age 10 he wanted to be a football coach, but at nearly 34, his promotion this week to Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator wasn’t an overnight success story.
Scott paid his dues.
His father was an assistant coach at Florida State during the prosperous years under Bobby Bowden, and Scott would hotfoot from elementary school to watch practice.
“I couldn’t wait to get old enough to coach,” Scott said. “That was what I really wanted to do.”
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Florida State offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Brad Scott was also a top recruiter. His name was like currency in Florida high schools. As a kid, Jeff Scott frequently would accompany his father on the road.
“Karootin’,” he said when he would tell his friends about recruiting.
During the five years his father was the South Carolina coach, the seasons were leaner than what he had been accustomed to and the fans turned surly. The experience didn’t dissuade him from his profession.
His father joked that Jeff must not have been paying attention, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
When Brad Scott became an assistant on Tommy Bowden’s staff in 1999, Jeff enrolled at Clemson. He lettered as a receiver and holder and won a number of academic honors. His coaching career seemed to leap off the launch pad. Scott’s father advised him to take a high school job for the perspective and potential for respect, so in 2005 he built the foundation for a football program at a brand new school. The next year, in its first season of competition, Blythewood won the South Carolina Class3A championship and Scott was named state coach of the year.
Scott spent a year as Presbyterian College receivers coach under former Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley then rejoined his father at Clemson in 2008 as a graduate assistant on Bowden’s staff. When Dabo Swinney was promoted at midseason, Scott was, too.
Scott replaced Billy Napier as recruiting coordinator in 2009 and his impact was immediate. He distributed smart phones to the staff and encouraged them to text prospects. An early advocate of social media, he began “Tweeting” before the athletics department had an account and has more than 19,000 followers.
Clemson’s recruiting classes have been ranked top 20 annually by ESPN.com and this year’s class, which includes three highly regarded players from Florida on whom he ran point, is ranked top five by most recruiting services.
“Recruiting is a 24-7, 365-day a year job. I can remember family vacations Dad having to take a recruiting call,” he said. Brad Scott played all the angles, including dressing Jeff as the mascot of the high school he was recruiting.
“Without those experiences as a young kid at six, seven, eight years old, I might not have fallen in love with college football like I did.”
Mentoring receivers also has been productive. Four of his former players are in the NFL this season and two current players received all-conference honors this week.
When Chad Morris joined the staff in 2011, Scott was instructed to shadow him, learn the smallest details and build on his experiences as a player and coach. Blythewood’s offense that championship season was his. Scott called the plays.
Late next week, after Clemson learns its bowl destination and the team returns for practice, Scott might draw on his experiences and – with Tony Elliott – begin to chart Clemson’s offensive future.
Scott said his father never sat him down for “the coach talk.” The lessons were always there, from hanging around the Seminoles’ practice field, to touring Florida high schools with his dad and holding for Clemson kickers.
“Really, it’s not like we have a formal discussion,” he said. “It’s the experiences and the small talks here and there that you’ve had over the last 30 years.”