You may not be too familiar with the name L.J. Scott but come this fall when the Cards kick off their inaugural season in the ACC, it’s safe to say that you will learn about him quickly. Scott is a true freshman at Louisville and is one of three early enrollee’s in the 2014 recruiting class.
Scott committed to Charlie Strong and his staff before they stampeded to Texas and chose to remain true to his word even when schools like Michigan State and Wisconsin came calling. The product of Marion, Ohio is a very athletic and intriguing prospect at the running back position.
Standing six feet tall and weighing a solid 215 pounds, he has the speed to run by people and also the power to go through tacklers and he has been wowing coaches and turning heads already in spring practices. His athletic ability is not something usually seen in guys his size and should be the reason he sees the field as a freshman.
You may be wondering how he fits into the rotation with proven guys like Dominique Brown, Michael Dyer and another phenomenal looking back, Brandon Radcliff? For starters, you can never really have enough good running backs and with Brown and Dyer both battling injuries in the past, it’s a safe bet to be fully stocked with top talents like Scott.
I watched a ton of film on Scott over the last year or so and came away impressed but not gushing over him. After seeing him in person for the first time yesterday, I am now gushing and drooling over the young man and the possibilities that he brings to the team. Scott showed top notch speed, vision, footwork and outstanding ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The latter is something that could help him see the field early under Petrino.
Coach Petrino likes to use bigger backs and wear down defenses, making it easier for the offense to execute and light up scoreboards like Clark W. Griswold’s house at Christmas. Petrino has been impressed early on with Scott, saying,
“L.J. has been impressive,” Petrino said. “I like that he is willing to learn and how hard he runs the football. I also like how mature he is and how he gets right in there every time.”
When asked about Strong and his staff leaving for Texas, Scott had this to say.
“At first, I was a little surprised. I knew when the new coaching staff came here that they were on the same level playing field so I just used that to my advantage. I worked extra hard in the weight room to get stronger and faster. I studied my playbook and called Coach Kolby Smith. I just did everything I could to learn the offense.”
And, what does Scott think about Petrino’s daunting offense? “I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but it is very demanding and I like that. Coach Petrino asks a lot from you. He doesn’t ask for too much, just pushes you to be great. I remember the first meeting we had with him, he told us we are training you to be a professional. If you are wanting to play at the next level, he is the perfect coach for you.”
Former Cardinal great, and probably my all-time favorite, Kolby Smith is Scott’s position coach and echoed Petrino when talking about his new young weapon.
“I’ve been impressed with his competitiveness,“ Smith said. “I like that he understands with a new coaching staff that he has a chance to compete for playing time.”
While Scott’s coaches and teammates are impressed with the rookie so far, Scott knows he must continue to work hard and absorb all the teaching he gets. I like how he has a quiet confidence and seems eager to learn everything he can. Scott also believes in his own abilities and while he is well aware that the guys listed in front of him on the depth chart do not want to lose any playing time to him, he knows he can be another piece to the talented back field.
“I think I add a lot of versatility to the offense because of my size,” Scott said. “I can play both the fullback and tailback positions.”
Anybody that has watched a Bobby Petrino offense will tell you that he seldom uses a two-back set and he is one of the most innovative offensive minds in football. Petrino has had some spectacular backs at Louisville in guys like the aforementioned Smith, Michael Bush, Eric Shelton, Lionel Gates, Anthony Allen and George Stripling.
I personally think Scott has the tools to be as good as any of those guys and the addition of him to Brown, Dyer, Radcliff and hopefully a healthy Corvin Lamb, will make the unit one of the best in the ACC and even all of college football. There’s a lot of time until the season starts but the early signs are very good if you’re a fan of running the ball.
Scott made SportsCenter’s Top 10 for hurdling a defender last season.
*Fans can get a look at Scott and company today at 3:50 PM in the stadium as well as on Friday. The Cards close out spring practices next Tuesday and Wednesday before showcasing their skills in the Red-White Spring game next Friday at 7:30 PM.