GAINESVILLE – Larry Scott's first tastes of football were not glamorous.
In middle school, he changed helmet studs, lined the field and hung up jerseys as a volunteer equipment manager at Sebring High.
He helped build USF from the ground up as a freshman offensive tackle on the Bulls' inaugural 1997 team. His first two coaching jobs were a short stint as Wharton High's offensive line coach followed by three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Freedom High.
The 41-year-old never imagined back then that he'd have a career like this, one that included eight years at his alma mater, six games as Miami's interim head coach and now a spot on Dan Mullen's staff as the Gators' new tight ends coach.
"Uh, no," Scott said Thursday during his first formal address with reporters. "I mean, honestly, I just kept my head down and really worked."
But it never seemed like work for Scott. He fell in love with football early, so he was willing to do whatever it took to get around the game – even if it walking from the middle school to the high school to wash dirty uniforms.
He kept climbing after his time in Tampa's high school ranks. Scott became USF's director of high school relations in 2005, then served as a graduate assistant and, eventually, a position coach.
He jumped from there to Miami in 2013 and took over the Hurricanes in 2015 after Al Golden's midseason firing. Scott inherited a talented team that was 4-3 and had just suffered a 58-0 humiliating home loss to Clemson. His first game as interim coach ended with the miraculous (and controversial) laterals that upset No. 22 Duke on the road. That helped Miami start a 4-2 streak and earn a trip to the Sun Bowl.
Scott clearly understands how things work on the other side of the semi-rivalry between the 'Canes and Gators; on Thursday, he referred to Miami as "that other school down south." But he also seemed appreciative of the opportunity he got to lead a power program, if only for half a season.
"Just that experience and sitting in that chair gives you the perspective…" Scott said. "So I sat in that perspective, and I saw the program through what I needed to handle and my portion of the pie for us to be successful."
His portion of the pie this season will be coaching tight ends – an important part of Mullen's offense. Considering where he was a month ago (caught up in the coaching change at Tennessee) and where he started his career, Scott still sounds amazed to land at his home state's flagship university.
"Is there any place or any conference that's more special and higher than this? No," Scott said. "So no, I did not (envision myself here), but I'm very fortunate and very blessed and extremely fired up to have the opportunity."
Malik Davis update: Running backs coach Greg Knox said Malik Davis is "coming along well" from the season-ending knee injury he suffered against Georgia. But it's still unclear when the Jesuit High alumnus and Hillsborough County's all-time leading rusher will be able to practice fully.
Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.