Last season for Ole Miss, running back Jeff Scott carried the load on the ground. He was the team’s leading rusher with 846 yards and also led the team in carries with 197. However, the toll of SEC defenses would eventually get to him and his teammates as the rushing attack for the Rebels took a steady decline as the season progressed.
Now, the Rebels have found depth with sophomores Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers and have also added freshmen Kailo Moore and Mark Dodson and plan to utilize this to keep Scott’s legs as fresh as possible.
“It’s huge,” running backs coach Derrick Nix said of the added depth. “There is competition every single day. Each kid knows they can’t come out and lay an egg so to speak. You’ve got to come out and work hard every single day and you know there is another guy behind you that’s maybe just as good or brings a different set of skills to the table and it has helped make us a better offensive unit and has helped us at the running back position as well.”
Despite the abundance of names in the backfield, coaches and Scott alike still expect him to put up solid numbers and contribute in more ways than he did last season.
“I think you’re going to see a more well-rounded performance from him, catching the ball, special teams and of course running the football as well,” Nix said of Scott. “He’s going to bring all of his talent to the table a bit more this season.”
Although Scott finds himself solidly planted atop the depth chart at running back for the Rebels, the journey there wasn’t an easy one. Scott, who has battled both being what is considered an undersized back on the field at 5 feet 7 inches, 162 pounds and some issues off the field, has now caught the eyes of coaches and players as he has grown into what he is today.
“He was just a wide-eyed freshman when he came here four years ago,” Nix said. “Just learning the structure and accountability and things like that, he’s come a long way with that, and I’m very proud of where he is at right now.”
Head coach Hugh Freeze also noted the substantial amount of progress Scott has made outside of football.
“I’m real proud of Jeff and the young man he is becoming off the field,” Freeze said. “I think he has probably changed as much as anyone since I arrived. I’m proud of what he did academically to get himself where he is today, and I think he is starting to make wise decisions, and I’m proud of him in that.”
As Scott entered his senior season and final campaign in the red and blue, he was faced with the challenge of being limited in fall camp. However, that has not slowed him down a bit. Scott said he has progressed tremendously in the film room and the limited reps have also helped with his health heading into the season.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Scott said. “I still feel fresh. Last season, I was banged up during camp and ended up missing the first game. So I think they did a pretty good job keeping me fresh and giving the younger guys reps so they know what it’s like when it comes to game time.”
As for off the field, Scott has also noticed a personal change within himself and plans to continue on the road he is on.
“It’s my senior year and I’ve been here for four years,” he said. “I’ve just matured a lot and grew up. I’ve been surrounding myself with good people who want to be better and that’s what I’m trying to be.
“I’m trying to be better, and hopefully, I can take my talents to the next level.”
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