Scott’s Course Work
By BJ Bennett
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Former GSU Eagle and current New Orleans Saints defensive back Laron Scott is making sure he's teed up and ready off of the field as well as on it.
NFL rookies are faced with many direct challenges. The jump from college to the pros is a dramatic one and many greenhorns simply get lost in the shuffle. For an undrafted free agent, especially one from the FCS ranks, the transition can be even more trying. It's a learning curve former Georgia Southern standout Laron Scott is currently trying to straighten.
Despite the disappointment of not being drafted, he was quickly brought in and signed by the New Orleans Saints. The last few months have been a constant evaluation process for the 5'9'' cornerback/return specialist. With training camp just over one month away, many have been impressed his dynamic skill set and expect Scott to be a factor for the defending NFC South champions this fall. Of all of the obstacles he's faced, one of the most recent put Scott and others on full display right in front of their New Orleans teammates. Not on the field, rather the fairway.
"It went alright," he laughed of a past week team golf outing. "It was hot out there and I'm not used to going out and playing a lot of golf. It was very competitive, a lot of guys wanted to win. I started off pretty good, better than I thought I would. It all went downhill from there. I think I gave it my all on my first one, then it trailed off. I still enjoyed the game and had fun playing it."
Scott is enjoying every moment with his new team, soaking up all he can on the go. Many members of the Saints team have Super Bowl rings from their 2009 triumph. Scott is eyes wide open. He's constantly observing team mainstays, making mental notes along the way. A number of the veterans have taken time to help show the rookie the ropes.
"I love it. Just being around this organization and being around the guys, just learning the new lifestyle of the NFL. The guys are great, a lot of them will help you with the transition. I still getting used to it and I'm having a great time doing it," Scott added.
The increase in competition aside, embracing the role of employee is critical to the success of young NFL players. Traits like organization, planning and time management are often equally as important as speed, strength and toughness. It's a much more direct approach than the lifestyle of a student-athlete. Scott is making sure he's teed up and ready off of the field as well as on it.
"It's definitely very business-like and very different from college. There's definitely a more family feel to it as there is nobody looking over your shoulder. You are expected to do the right thing on and off the field," he continued. "It's a job. You have to go out there and do your job and you have to maintain yourself and maintain your image. They look for that stuff. That's what I'm here to do, just trying to keep everything between the lines."
Looking ahead to training camp, Scott will likely see action at two different positions. It's certainly a role he's familiar with as he finished his tenure with the Eagles as the school's all-time leader with 2,257 career kick return yards and started every game of his three-year GSU career at cover corner, recording 12 interceptions. While making the depth chart as a defender is certainly a goal, Scott is well aware of the value he has as a special teamer and the impact his versatility can have on his new team.
"I'm just trying to learn. I know the first way I'm going to make it is through special teams, that's how it goes at this level," he acknowledged. "I'm going to do that. If I'm able to play some defense, I'll be able to help there. Just doing anything I can to help the team."
Scott has a great mentor to mimic in Saints star Darren Sproles. A member of the San Diego Chargers "50th Anniversary Team", he has continued to make plays for New Orleans. He actually returned a punt return for a score in his first-ever game with the team. He is considered to be one of the most dangerous all-purpose players in modern league history. Undersized but lightening-quick, Sproles can offer Scott many lessons on how to be successful.
"Not just watching, but talking to him. He's out there all the time talking to me, letting me know what to expect on returns, what I should look for, how to do this, how to do that. He's a great leader out there," Scott said of learning from Sproles. "He's been doing it a while, he's one of the elite guys. I'm definitely taking everything he gives me, taking advantage of it, trying to bring what he says to the field and do it to the best of my ability."
At this point, with a few weeks left before camp, Scott is simply enjoying life as a New Orleans Saint. There no distractions or outside influences, he says.
"All of that stuff definitely stays on the outside. We don't talk about it a lot, we just try to move on and get ready for the next team coming up. All of that happened in the past, I don't know anything about it," Scott said of the franchise's negative storylines. "I'm trying to be apart of a new team, we're going to move on. We're going to build from it."
From Statesboro to the bayou, it's now Scott's turn. Based on the insights of those who cover the team, Scott's abilities appear to be a good fit as he looks to secure a roster spot this summer. Work still needs to be done, but he's definitely got a good shot.