Just a little over a year ago there were questions aplenty for the broken Ole Miss football program. It had a new coach, it was trying to rebound from the worst season in school history and it didn’t have a lot of positive momentum. In fact, it had quite the opposite.
Among other questions surrounding the program, there was the question about the Rebels’ running back position. How effective could a running back be in Hugh Freeze’s perceived pass-happy system? Furthermore, could little ole Jeff Scott even handle the load?
Fast forward a year, and those questions are buried deep in the past for many of those who were searching for answers.
Freeze’s offense has proven to be predicated on the run, and if Jeff Scott didn’t prove he was capable of carrying the load last season, he certainly has this season. He has rushed for 330 yards and two touchdowns, one of which proved to be the game-winner against Vanderbilt. This past weekend he highlighted the Rebels’ victory over the Texas Longhorns with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Scott is making big play after big play this season. He is fourth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards and fifth in all-purpose yards with 455. It is safe to say that Scott is making a name for himself in his senior season.
“This is my senior year,” Scott said. “This is it for me. I want to go out on top.”
While there have always been questions about his size and things similar to that, Scott noted that he needed to get things figured out off the field before he could be great for Ole Miss.
“Off-the-field issues, academics. I really struggled really hard in academics,” Scott said. “Coach Freeze has been on us tough. I just had to get my priorities right.”
Things really changed in Scott, almost overnight, it seems.
“Around my junior year, I knew my time here was limited,” he said. “I just wanted to be a great player overall. I wanted people to like me for what I do off the field and on the field.”
In many ways, the growth of Scott and the growth of the Ole Miss football program are very similar. Just a year ago, no one would have foreseen the Rebels being 3-0 coming off a win against Texas and being nationally ranked. No one would have guess that the 5-foot-7, 160-pound Scott would be the driving force behind the dangerous Rebel offense. In many ways, the success of the Ole Miss program can be attributed to the turnaround of Scott under Freeze and many other cases just like his.
“This program came a long way,” Scott said. “My freshman year we are losing to a (FCS) team. Sophomore year we end up winning about three games. So it’s been a huge turnaround.”
Much of the same can be said for Scott. He has come a long way in a year and even further in his four years in Oxford –– just like the Ole Miss program. He credits his turnaround to Freeze and strength and conditioning coach Paul Jackson.
But much of the credit goes to Scott; as he said, he just had to get his priorities right.
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