Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Pinellas Park DE Jordon Scott finalizes his future on the West Coast

In the beginning, there was nothing to the recruiting process for Pinellas Park High School defensive end Jordon Scott. After a few years of hearing pitches from various coaches, he was offered by the University of Florida in May and accepted the offer to his dream school. The 6-foot-2, 348-pound Scott planned to enroll in January and start his career as a Gator.

But it wasn't that simple.

In early November, Scott announced that he was no longer committed to Florida. The Gators seemed to be backing off, so Scott thought it best to look at other schools while he could still make visits.

"Once I did that, (Pinellas Park) coach (Kenny) Crawford said his phone started blowing up," Scott said. "I'd get messages from coaches on Twitter. It was pretty crazy, but I just wanted to find the right fit."

Crawford did indeed get a lot of interest from colleges about his star lineman. He has been through many recruiting cycles as a long-time high school assistant and head coach, but he said he's never seen a school treat a player the way Florida treated Scott.

"I'm not a very big fan of what they did," Crawford said. "I'm always preaching to my kids that your word is your bond. Then I've got (Florida) coaches telling my kid to be loyal and then two or three weeks before the visits are over you go back on your word? Not a fan of that at all."

Scott graduated from Pinellas Park in December, so it was imperative to find a school that would allow him to enroll in January. He was looking at Florida State, but the Seminoles would not accept him as an early enrollee. The University of Mississippi was in the mix, but the defensive coaching staff changed after the regular season so Scott wasn't sure who his coaches would be.

Louisville was also a front-runner. Then came a coaching change at Oregon. Willie Taggart left USF to take over the Ducks. Taggart added former USF head coach Jim Leavitt as his defensive coordinator. Leavitt was previously at Colorado and also had NFL experience. Scott has known Leavitt since his freshman year.

Oregon ranked 116th in total defense this season. Crawford said both Taggart and Leavitt had much interest in Scott and wanted him on campus in January to get started in the program. Without ever visiting Oregon, Scott committed to the Ducks on Christmas. Classes begin Jan. 9.

"I never, ever thought I would end up in Oregon," Scott said. "They only recruited 4.3 (40-yard dash) guys, and that's definitely not me. But after talking to Coach Leavitt, I can't wait to get there and get this thing started."

Scott said his family was at first surprised that he would be going to Oregon. But they quickly stocked up on Ducks gear. He said they will try to visit when they can.

He doesn't know what is role will be as a freshman. He could play right away or he could be red-shirted.

"I'm definitely not thinking about the red-shirt, but if that's what they think is best then fine," said Scott, who graduated with a 3.7 grade-point average. "But I'm going out there to play. I want to prove that I'm ready right away."

Scott's senior statistics don't stand out. He had three sacks and nine tackles for loss. But consider that Scott often saw double and triple teams from linemen. Pinellas Park had 44 sacks, which means other linemen collected 41 while Scott was dealing with blockers.

Scott isn't the only local player to head west. Armwood athlete Darrian McNeal also committed to Oregon.

Crawford believes the Ducks are getting one of the best players he has coached.

"Nobody works harder than Jordon. Nobody," he said. "He is out there every day, even when he doesn't have to be, trying to get better. And his character is outstanding. He will do very well at Oregon."

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