Once-shy LSU QB Lindsey Scott Jr. brings character, media savvy to the Tigers as freshman
Lindsey Scott’s meteoric rise to unseen peaks this winter left in his wake a trail of not only frustrated opponents, but a growing number of cameras.
As talented as some of those defenses may have been, there’s little question the latter would’ve been a more daunting proposal to his younger self.
But the once undersized and quiet quarterback found, with his stride, his swagger en route to becoming not only a heralded leader, but a media darling now beginning his first preseason camp at LSU.
“It’s funny because some of my teammates and my classmates, when they think of me, they jump straight to 11th grade when things kind of started to get up and running,” says Scott, who graduated this May after leading Zachary to its first state championship in December. “But people like (lineman) Trevor Jackson — Trevor knew me when I was really little — they know that in middle school I was really shy.
“It was always easy with my friends and stuff, but meeting new people — and don’t even get me started on girls. I couldn’t walk up to girls and talk to ’em. Me and my friends would be walking in the mall or something, and I’d say something like, ‘Oh, that girl’s cute.’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, go talk to her.’ And I was kind of like, ‘Don’t even worry about all that.”
“I think I was shy when I was little, but I had to grow out of it, because there were so many things that were happening that made me have to become a better speaker and a better people person.”
SHY GUY — OFF THE FIELD
Many of his classmates didn’t even realize who he was as a sophomore.
Scott took the reins of the Broncos’ offense midway through his first season at the school.
And the team proceeded to march to its first quarterfinal appearance since joining the Class 5A in 2009.
“I was really quiet because I didn’t really know anybody, so I would kind of sit back and watch and learn about people,” he says. “So when the fifth game comes around, we start playing better, and we go on to the playoffs and the quarterfinals and stuff. Each week, they mentioned the scores to the games and if anybody got Player of the Game or anything like that. And while this is going on and we’re going into the playoffs, the entire time, nobody realizes I’m the quarterback except for the guys on the team, because I have my helmet on on the field and I don’t really talk about it in class — I’m just doing my work.
“So no one really figured it out until the second round of the playoffs, and I thought that was pretty funny. You go seven or eight games into the season, and then all of a sudden, ‘Oh, wait! You’re the quarterback?’ ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ Me and my dad joke about that a lot.”
Lindsey Scott Sr. still sees his son more in that light than many fans or media might believe.
“I still think that, comparatively, he’s pretty shy,” the former Baker, Southern and CFL standout says. “Football has given him a platform to kind of come out of that a little bit.
“He’s never been shy on the football field. He’s never been shy in a locker room or around players. That’s always been a place where he could just kind of let go. But, out of that, off the field and in regular life, he’s always been a kid that’s more to himself, more shy, sort of the last to speak.”
The younger Scott, whose first words were “down, set, hut,” remembers being at ease leading huddles even in his youth.
“I had been playing with those guys,” he says. “You work out a whole summer with those guys, and they know. The only time it’s (not) been like that was when I made the transition from Dutchtown to Zachary.
“I didn’t really know the guys, but they knew I was a quarterback, so I kind of had to go around and learn everybody — how this guy reacts, how will this guy react — and kind of slowly move my way up.”
BREAKING OUT OF THE SHELL
His new classmates started to figure out who he was later that fall and so, too, did the media.
“My first (interview) felt like before a game almost,” he remembers. “I had butterflies, and I don’t even really know why. He was asking all these questions, and I was talking softly, and I was really timid.
“But as I started doing more and more … it makes it a little bit easier.”
By the time Zachary announced David Brewerton as its new head coach in February, the shy, first-year Bronco was the team spokesman presented to interview with media about the hire.
“He was pretty vocal,” Brewerton says. “By the time I got there going into that spring, he was already locked in as the starting quarterback, so I think he was probably already pretty vocal at that point.”
And showing no signs of slowing down.
Lindsey completed 139 of 242 passes (57.4 percent) for 2,231 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions and rushed for another 965 yards and 15 scores on 112 carries en route to LSWA Class 5A Offensive MVP honors.
Zachary reached the semifinals.
More interviews and even bigger performances kept piling up one after the other.
He completed 163 of 255 passes (63.9 percent) as a senior for 3,040 yards, 33 touchdowns, five interceptions and rushed 220 times for another 1,963 yards and 28 scores.
“I was looking through some pictures the other day that our team photographer was taking, and I came across one where we were leaving to practice in the (Mercedes-Benz) SuperDome,” Brewerton says. “We were leaving school, and I think one of the elementary schools sent a couple of grade levels over to kind of see us off campus or whatever, and there’s a picture where he’s bending over basically high-fiving a couple little-bitty kids right outside our team buses.
“Now, our whole team is already on the buses. He’s the only one off the bus. But he stopped and took time to talk to those kids and high-five ‘em and all before he got on the bus to leave. And that picture was just, that’s just the way he was. He understood his role as far as being a leader on the team and all, but he was also the quarterback, and he was also getting all the tv time and all the pub, so he understood the responsibility that went with that. There’s not a lot of high school kids that get that part of it, and he did a tremendous job of it. He really did.”
The Broncos rolled past John Ehret, including a prospect-stacked defense, to win their first state championship, and their quarterback took home a seemingly never-ending string of accolades.
LSWA Class 5A Offensive MVP again.
LSWA Mr. Football.
Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year.
The Warrick Dunn Award.
“Warrick was a really, really quiet guy back then, and you’ve gotta remember Kevin Franklin, who was his backfield mate, was really the guy that was getting all the pub,” says Brewerton, who played with the star running backs at Catholic High. “Warrick was kind of in the shadows most of the time, and it wasn’t until senior year — and his senior year, he played quarterback — Warrick was a guy, but a humble guy.
“They remind me a lot of one another in that standpoint. Both of ’em (were) tremendous athletes, but from a standpoint of being outspoken and embracing all that stuff, it’s different.”
‘DO THE RIGHT THING’
Every step came with its own ripple of corresponding interviews.
And each opportunity he showed more character and personality, he became even more of a media and fan favorite — and a role model.
Local youth groups began inviting him to speak to children.
“I think the very first thing I did was either one of the pee-wee football banquets or talking to elementary kids,” he says. “The football banquet, we talked about just the things that are important to me: family, faith and football.”
Zachary mayor David Amrhein eventually presented Scott a key to the city in March.
“It was eye-opening,” Scott says. “During the season, you’re just kind of taking care of your business and being a kid, listening to your coaches and teachers … You never really realize how much these kids look up to you until after the banquet (TCU signee) Kellton (Hollins), (Texas Tech signee) Douglas (Coleman) and I were there for about 45 minutes after the banquet because kids wanted us to sign autographs.
“And then after the elementary school visit, all the kids wanted to talk and take pictures and stuff like that. It opens your eyes, and it humbles you when you see all these kids that look up to you. You think, ‘Who am I to let these kids down? I’ve gotta do the right thing not only for them, but for my family and other people that look up to me, too.'”
Fans began stopping Scott at places such as gas stations, Walmart or local restaurants to talk football, but also those leadership and character aspects.
“They always make a point to tell me don’t lose that side of myself — always work hard, but always be that good person,” he says. “It makes me feel good, because I’ve got all this football stuff, and I’ve got people telling me how proud of the young man I’ve become, and it’s different and I like it.
“I think it’s also a compliment to my parents and the other people around me, so I like it.”
Adds Lindsey Sr.: “That’s an awesome feeling. From an individual standpoint, from a parent standpoint, there are a lot of things that as you move through life you think will define your feeling of success of being successful. And law school or playing football myself, nothing compares to the feeling of watching your children develop and excel.
“There’s nothing that makes you feel more successful than watching your kids grow in the right direction. And in Lindsey’s case, I try to get his mind to focus on the fact that even now is all just a part of a bigger process. I like the way the mayor of the city of Zachary said it when he gave Lindsey the award. He said, ‘It takes a lot of things to build a name, but it only takes one to throw it all out of the window.’
“So what I try to get him to do is focus on, ‘Hey, man, everything you’ve done to this point is all part of a larger process. Never get so wrapped up into it that you think this is the end game.’ But I wake up every morning thankful for my children — and particularly Lindsey, (the oldest), has grown into a fine young man.”
College coaches took notice throughout the process.
“Some of the Ivy League schools and some of the military academies that were in my office that had chances to sit down and talk to him,” Brewerton says, “when they left my office, most of them had the same thing to say in there: ‘That’s the guy. No doubt, coach. That’s the guy. We’ve gotta have him.’
“I heard that a lot. ‘He fits exactly what we want. He carries himself exactly the way we want him to carry himself. And he can be a star for us.'”
Offers from schools like Harvard, Syracuse, Rutgers, Tulane and Maryland began flying in, with others such as Cal, LSU, Minnesota and Oklahoma State showing notable interest.
The love affair with the young star turned into vocal criticism of the hometown Tigers for months until a late offer eventually drew his signature.
“It was awkward because sometimes I don’t like being the center of attention, because you’ve got guys around me like Trevor, Kellton, Douglas and Shyrone (White) that I think are just as good as me and can do great things just like me,” Scott says. “When things rolled around to that time of year, it was weird to turn the radio on, ESPN Radio, and they’re talking about me. It was something I had to get used to. It was definitely weird. But I think everything went the right way.”
Juggling recruiting, media, school and workouts became a lot to handle — but more because of time constraints than being shy, unwilling or overwhelmed.
“He always just kind of dealt with it,” Brewerton says. “During that recruiting time, I can remember pulling him out of class a lot because just different coaches were coming through and him needing to be able to meet them, because I thought it was so important for him to sit down and meet with coaches.
“He’s not the type of player that you can just put some film on and say, ‘Look, you can sign this guy. He’s a great kid.’ He’s a guy that, because of his height limitations, he needed to be able to sit in front of coaches and let them pick his brain a little bit. So he was missing some school time. He really was. School always came — I don’t wanna say easy to him, but he’s a very intelligent kid. He was having to spend a lot of time making up class time, and his teachers would come to me and tell me, ‘Hey, coach, he’s doing a great job of juggling both and doing what he needs to do academically as well.’
“Did it ever get to him where it would kind of affect him? No, I didn’t see that. I could tell he was tired at times, I really could, because I can tell you another things: I didn’t give him any breaks.”
He committed to LSU just before National Signing Day — avoiding the hoopla and theatrics for which so many recruits stall to enjoy.
And he quickly appeased more than a dozen interview requests from print, web, television and radio formats.
The Lindsey Jr. leading huddles in Ascension Parish always had big plans on the football field.
The bashful Lindsey Jr. at the mall couldn’t have ever imagined handling all the external attention so smoothly.
“I can tell you he was already far advanced when I got here,” Brewerton says. “And then the old he got, the more he understood the way all of it has to tie together. And whether it’s leadership in the locker room or on the field or just the way he represented our team when we would ask him to do speaking engagements sometimes, he just embodies anything you want from the face of your program.
“I know I’ve used that phrase a lot, but, my goodness, it would be hard to find another kid that you would ever want to model your entire program after more than Lindsey Scott.”
That dynamic is important to the incoming LSU freshman, as the Tigers open fall camp Thursday.
Carrying himself in a respectable way is as important to him as throwing touchdowns and winning games — which anyone familiar with his competitive nature knows says quite a bit.
“I think it’s a real big deal because no matter where you go to school, the quarterback is not always, but a lot of times, the face of the program,” he says. “And even if he’s not the face of the program, he’s one of the guys on the team that he has to know his teammates, he has to know the guys around him.
“Some guys react differently, and you have to know those individual guys when it comes to game time, because this guy might be in a funk and there’s this one thing that can take him out of it and you as a quarterback know that and all of a sudden he catches that game-winning pass or something like that. Chemistry with your teammate and just being a good young man so that if you are the face of your program, you should off your program well, that’s big.”
All the intangibles — leadership, unselfishness, humility and on down the list — aren’t surprising to anyone at this point.
But they, paired with his experience in the spotlight to this point, give his high school coach a difficult time imagining Scott not handling the media attention at the next level well, too.
“I seriously doubt it,” Brewerton says. “I can’t remember an athlete garnering that much media attention and awards and press conferences and everything as much as Lindsey did this year. I mean, it was unbelievable. It really was. So he’s very, very comfortable now in front of a camera. He’s very comfortable with a microphone in his face. And he’s going to say the right things, and he’s gonna represent his program well by doing that.
“You hear those guys say some crazy things some times. You’re not gonna get that from him. You’re gonna get some generic answers and team-first mentality, and that’s just the type of person he is. I don’t see that happening.
“I’ll tell you what kind of kid Lindsey is. Now, I have no idea what their plans on for him. I really don’t. But if they meet with him early on and say, ‘All right, Lindsey, here’s the deal. You’re gonna redshirt this year.’ Or, ‘Look, you’re not gonna be the guy this year. Where you are, we’ve gotta do some things to get you ready,’ or that type of stuff, Lindsey is the type of guy that will get back there in the shadows — even though he’s who he is and he’s had that limelight — he will back away from that and just work his ass off behind the scenes where you won’t see it, but he’ll be crushing it every single day.
“I don’t want it to sound like he’s intimidated by the situation, because that’s not it at all. If they tell him,’ You will have a chance to compete for the starting spot,’ OK. Well if that’s the case, then he’ll do all those things I just told you, but he will embrace being in the limelight and being able to have an opportunity to affect people early on in his career. Neither one of those two scenarios would surprise me at all. That’s just the way he is. He’ll embrace what the ask him to do, as far as the coaching staff is concerned.”
Jerit Roser can be reached at Jerit@DatBoot.com.