We're featuring some of our HomeTeam 100 players, including our No. 1 player, East Lake WR Artavis Scott:
Artavis Scott has enough moves to jam a highlight reel. He hangs onto footballs by his fingertips, often while parallel to the ground. His finishing speed leaves pursuers breathlessly behind on his way to the end zone.
The quicksilver receiver-returner (5-10, 175) has brought pizzazz to East Lake High’s offense the past two seasons with a combined 2,281 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns. Those numbers helped Scott, a senior, wrap up the No. 1 ranking among bay area high school players in the Tampa Bay Times’ HomeTeam 100.
Scott, though, shrugs off the top billing.
Player rankings can be a hot-button issue, a topic with maddening and sometimes exhilarating debates. Players feel snubbed if they’re not ranked or get angry when they’re not listed high enough. Scott believes performance matters most, and he views rankings more as a target than a reward. Mostly, he just wants to stand out on his own.
“I’m not a follower,” Scott said. “I’m always going to look to do something different, to be my own person.”
Scott has always marched to his own beat. In youth leagues, he had the build and speed to be a receiver or running back, but would often ask to line up in the trenches. In pickup basketball games, he always wanted to play against guys much older.
“Tay wants to be a leader, but he also is looking for the biggest challenge he can find,” said Countryside defensive back Michael Johnson, also Scott’s cousin.
“When we were 11 or 12, we would go and play guys who were 20 years old in basketball. That’s the way it’s always been. We try to play the best to make ourselves better.”
Three years ago, Scott came to East Lake and started on varsity. He wanted to play running back, but his size was a concern for the coaches, who switched him to receiver so he wouldn’t take as much of a pounding. Scott made an immediate impact, returning a kickoff for a touchdown in his first high school game.
As a freshman, Scott became fast friends with quarterback Pete DiNovo. The two quickly developed into one of the best passing combinations in the area. Scott’s ability to make catches in the clutch helped DiNovo become Pinellas County’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns.
“People see all the rankings and stuff like that and think all Tay has to do is step on the field on Friday nights and perform,” said DiNovo, now a freshman quarterback at UCF. “They don’t see all the work that we put in. There were so many times when it was just the two of us throwing together, working on a route maybe 40 times until we had it perfect.”
Scott’s playmaking ability was noticed by recruiting pundits and colleges. By the summer, Scott had more than 30 offers and was listed as a four-star recruit. He could have joined DiNovo at UCF. Or attended Michigan along with teammates Mason Cole and George Campbell, who committed to the Wolverines this offseason.
Instead, Scott chose Clemson, announcing his decision on ESPN last month.
“Of course, I liked Clemson,” Scott said. “It’s a great school, and it’s a great opportunity for me. But I also wanted to do something different and be an original.”
This season, Scott will be counted on even more to help the new starting quarterback.
“Pete was the soul of the offense,” Scott said. “He’s my brother. It’s going to be difficult any time you make a change like that. I just have to continue to go out and make plays.”
Scott started on that in the spring. Against Osceola, he hauled in two long receptions for touchdowns and returned two kicks for scores, all on the first four times he touched the ball in the first half.
“We want to go all the way,” Scott said. “I’m on a mission. That’s the hash tag I’m going to use this season, and you can print that.”