For the first time in a long time, B.J. Scott surfaced in media reports yesterday afternoon, specifically with the following from a Gentry Estes piece:
Another former Mobile prep star, Vigor's BJ Scott, is competing for a spot in Alabama's secondary. Having moved from wide receiver to cornerback last spring, Scott redshirted in 2009 to better learn the defense with an eye on 2010.
According to Barron, Scott is doing exactly that.
"BJ has been working hard," Barron said. "I guess he's been in his playbook. He knows a lot more than he did last year."
And on goes the saga of B.J. Scott.
Those who follow recruiting closely should well remember the former prep standout. After a prolific career at Vigor High School, Scott became a highly-touted recruit on the national level, garnering offers from literally every major college football program in the country, with star ratings galore heaped upon him. Winning his commitment in late July of 2007 was effectively the equivalent of Nick Saban descending upon the Port City and planting the crimson Alabama flag in the soggy Mobile soil, once again re-establishing and proclaiming the Crimson Tide's long-since dormant recruiting dominance in the area.
Unfortunately, things haven't gone to plan thus far. We originally recruited Scott as a defensive back, but eventually our staff -- like many others coaching staffs -- could not let go of the possibilities of Scott having the ball in his hands, and so we moved him to the offensive side of the ball. The pre-season hype machine was in full effect over the "Uno package," but it was ultimately non-existent. Scott caught a bubble screen in the season opener against Clemson for no gain, and caught a short pass early in the game five weeks later against Georgia, and that was the extent of his contribution as a true freshman. With a year of eligibility gone, Scott moved to cornerback last Spring.
Unfortunately, once again, things didn't go to plan there either. Admittedly he had a tough situation with so many returning cornerbacks from the 2008 season, but even so it was a bad year. Apparently he didn't pick up the cornerback position well enough -- some people speculated he struggled to grasp the scheme, which Barron's comments seem to at least partially confirm -- and he ended up redshirting. Doing so did make up for the wasted true freshman year, but to say that was the plan all along is probably little more than homeristic sunshine pumping. Barring injuries (which Scott did not have), second year players rarely redshirt, especially when they have the ability to be valuable special teams contributors.
Some have tried to excuse Scott's troubles at cornerback at the expense of Nick Saban's complex defense. That may have (and probably did) play at least some role, but we shouldn't overstate the effect of that. Kareem Jackson was able to contribute at cornerback as a true freshman in 2007 (and was easily our best corner to boot), largely discrediting that claim, and furthermore I will add that we should all hope that is not true. After all, considering that we will rely on at least one (and likely more) first year player to provide quality depth at cornerback in 2010, all Alabama fans should certainly hope that Saban's 3-4 scheme isn't that difficult to grasp.
I don't know exactly what the issue with Scott is, nor do I proclaim to know. Truth be told, it was probably a lot things. Scheme complexity hurt him, as did the depth in front of him, and quite frankly after his talk as a recruit of wanting to play offense, perhaps the dedication simply wasn't where it needed to be in order to develop as a cornerback. With all of that as possibilities, moving forward, hopefully Barron's comments will ring true and we will finally see Scott live up to his potential this year. Aside from the relatively obvious reality that we need quality cornerback play, the truth of the matter is that you never want to see a highly-touted recruit like Scott flame out because opposing coaches can use that stigma as a sign of a coaching staff's inability to develop talent at a particular position (which may be particularly applicable after the flame out of Alonzo Lawrence). Now obviously I don't think that Saban has any issue at developing cornerbacks -- far from it, in fact, he seems to be nothing short of amazing at doing so -- but of course that is not to say that some negative recruiting opposing coach cannot use examples of a couple of highly-publicized recruiting busts to convince a gullible 17-year old kid or two (that we need) to not sign with Alabama. Bottom line, while Scott played a big role for us in winning the recruiting wars of 2008 and 2009, we need him to step up and actually produce on the field.
One way or the other, though, there is a palpable sense of urgency with Scott, and justifiably so. For all of the turnover at cornerback, he still faces a tough road for playing time in 2010. Dre Kirkpatrick and Phelon Jones will definitely play key roles next season, and the 2010 recruiting class yielded Alabama likely its best cornerback class ever. JUCO transfer Dequan Menzie will have a role somewhere at cornerback, and the highly-touted and highly athletic Demarcus Milliner and John Fulton (both of which enrolled early and are currently practicing with the Tide) will be forces in their own right, which is to say nothing of Deion Belue. Quite frankly, even with all of the attrition, Scott by no means has a guaranteed role for 2010, and if he misses the opportunity to seize a meaningful role now -- with every single cornerback on the three-deep roster returning for 2011 -- Scott will likely be passed by for quite some time, and effectively be given the difficult choice of either transferring out for more playing time or continuing to toil in anonymity while hoping to finally find a meaningful role in his final hurrah as a fifth-year senior in 2012. Clearly the raw athletic ability is there for Scott, but raw athletic ability isn't everything, and despite his former Mr. Everything recruit status, the harsh reality is that Scott needs to produce right now or possibly suffer the consequences. As a result, keep your eye out for the rising redshirt sophomore, it may be now or never for him in the coming months.