Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Colleges

Artavis Scott makes an early splash with Clemson

Clemson receiver Artavis Scott is a college freshman who has soared to records the way he has soared over and past defensive backs: with an explosive combination of athleticism and speed.

In two games, the former East Lake High standout ranks 22nd among Division I-A receivers in yards per game at 102.5. Most of that came Sept. 6 when Scott had six receptions for 164 yards against South Carolina State to set a Clemson freshman single-game record. He surpassed the mark of 155 set by Sammy Watkins, a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills.

Now comes the biggest challenge yet, a primetime, key ACC matchup Saturday night at Florida State.

"This a big game that everyone is looking forward to," Scott said. "As for me, things have come together for me a little faster than I thought they would. I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunities when I get them."

Because of his 4.5-second speed in the 40, a vertical leap of 38 inches, great hands and football smarts that nicely complement his physical skills, Scott is a formidable offensive weapon, and the sensation of this year's stellar freshman receivers class.

Scott has always shown the ability to make jaw-dropping plays. The first time he touched the ball at East Lake, he returned a kickoff for a touchdown. In his final three seasons, he helped the Eagles reach the region final, then advance to the state semifinals for the first time last year.

Colleges took notice. Scott was a four-star recruit and had offers from more than 30 major Division I schools. He could have attended Florida or FSU. He could have reunited with his former high school quarterback, Pete DiNovo, at Central Florida or his high school left tackle, Mason Cole, at Michigan.

Instead, Scott chose Clemson, announcing his decision on ESPN during the summer of 2013.

"I just wanted to do something different," Scott said. "Clemson is a great school, and I felt it gave the best opportunity to succeed."

Though he was trying to be unique, Scott ended up being a trendsetter in his choice of Clemson. Three of the biggest bay area talents in the 2015 class — Sickles running back Ray Ray McCloud III, Tampa Bay Tech athlete Deon Cain and Plant offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen — also chose Clemson.

"It helps knowing that Artavis was already there," McCloud said. "I talked to him after he committed on how he liked the school and the campus. It was good to have somebody to talk to like that, and it helped in my decisionmaking process."

To get acclimated to college football, Scott graduated early and enrolled at the South Carolina university in January, making him eligible for spring practice. Scott, along with other freshman receivers, gave the Tigers needed depth as they searched for replacements for Watkins and Martavis Bryant, a fourth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Scott, 5 feet 10, 190 pounds, showed he was ready in an opening 45-21 loss to Georgia in which he caught two passes for 41 yards, including a leaping 35-yard catch that turned out to be the play of the game for the Tigers.

"I really like the look in Demarre Kitt's and Artavis Scott's eyes," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told the State newspaper after the Georgia game. "I thought they were ready and not overwhelmed with the moment."

Scott followed that with his record-setting performance against South Carolina State. Of course, it is one thing to pile up yards against an inferior team in which younger players get the bulk of playing time. Now Scott has to perform against the No. 1 team in the nation.

This Clemson-FSU matchup could become even more interesting with several bay area prospects joining both teams. Two weeks ago, Scott's former East Lake teammate, George Campbell, committed to the Seminoles. Campbell plans to take his official visit for Saturday's game.

"George and I are still close," Scott said. "That's my boy. I still talk to him all the time and give him pointers.

"For me, it's a big game and big moment. I'm just trying to play and maximize the most of whatever opportunities I get."

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