Clemson University

Scott keeps his focus on degree, not NFL future

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Few pro prospects follow through with such intent, but Clemson senior Dorell Scott said he plans to remain in school this spring to complete the final two classes needed for his sociology degree.

Scott, a 6-3, 320-pound nose guard out of Ridge View High, wants to become the first person in his immediate family to receive a college diploma.

The pressure is on: The eldest of his two younger sisters is a Clemson sophomore.

"I don't like to leave a job unfinished," Scott said. "That's just not the way I do things."

Clemson coaches insist Scott's showing during the second half of his final season provides evidence.

Scott, one of 15 recruited scholarship seniors who will play their final college game in Thursday's Gator Bowl against Nebraska, proved to be a microcosm of the Tigers' seesaw year.

The preseason Outland Trophy candidate admittedly failed to make much of an impact through the first six games, to the degree freshman backup Brandon Thompson was considered to be performing at the same level.

Then, after Clemson's coaching change, defensive line coach Chris Rumph had a sit-down with Scott that Rumph describes as both "a kick in the rear" and a doctor "check-up."

Scott responded with a season-high eight tackles against Georgia Tech. Since then, Rumph says Scott has lived up to his preseason billing, occupying linemen to free up space for the linebackers and safeties to make plays.

"He's been the best guy up front since I've taken over," coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's another one of those guys who has a great future. He's got the work ethic, the motor, and scouts love him."

Scott and safety Chris Clemons have received invitations to play in the Jan. 31 Texas vs. The Nation all-star game, and NFL personnel still speculate Scott should be picked in the middle rounds of the draft, pending his pre-draft workouts and NFL Combine testing.

The desire to impress NFL brass was one of the reasons for his initial swoon, Scott said.

Meanwhile, when his fellow senior counterpart on the interior line, tackle Rashaad Jackson, suffered a preseason knee injury that sidelined him the first seven games, Scott said he errantly tried to compensate for Jackson's absence.

Rumph said that for whatever reason, it took Scott a while to grow comfortable working in tandem with sophomore Jarvis Jenkins.

Those factors were exacerbated by Clemson's general malaise and the efforts of defensive coordinator Vic Koenning to generate more playmaking from the unit's veterans.

"I think it was part of all those things," Scott said. "I was just trying to do too much, and it wound up hurting me more than it helped me."

Scott said he hasn't allowed himself to reflect on his career quite yet, but he believes the college experience helped him mature in regard to handling adversity.

He specifically recalled going AWOL from Clemson's preseason camp before his redshirt freshman season, when life at the bottom of the depth chart, as well as conflict and illness at home, conspired to make his life seem out of control.

A number of family members, friends and current and former coaches talked Scott into returning to school. Scott said he's glad he listened to their advice.

So, too, is Rumph, who said Scott took the initiative to become a mentor to Thompson this season and deserves a fair share of the credit for Thompson's rapid development.

"It's almost like seeing one of your kids grow up in front of you," Rumph said. "Freshman year, he goes home from camp and was a kid who wouldn't say boo. That he's now really one of the leaders on the team is remarkable."