It seems a vanity to even try to encapsulate the career of the best punter to ever don a crimson jersey. Since J.K. Scott set foot on campus, the 6’6” 200-pounder has redefined the position in Tuscaloosa. Along the way, he has been instrumental in winning games for the Crimson Tide and has deservedly become a fan favorite and cult hero. We could write a 5,000 word opus and the accolades would seem to be redundant, even as they do not begin to fully celebrate his career or how much genuine respect we have for him and his abilities.
J.K. Scott was signed as part of the 2014 NSD class, where he was rated the nation’s No. 1 punter and No. 11 long distance placekicker. Some people are born with natural gifts and physiques that suit one very specific skills set. As Michael Phelps was born to water, J.K. Scott’s length, powerful core, limber frame, and switchblade-fast leg motion combine to make him a natural. Even in high school he looked the part. And, despite weighing a buck-fifty wringing wet, those mechanics can unleash not just an accurate, nearly-unreturnable kick, but one that can cover most of the field if he so chooses.
It is mind-boggling when you reel off his career and season stats. In addition to being a three-time All-American and three-time All-SEC selection, he has been a Ray Guy finalist three times. He holds the Alabama record for punting average in a season (48.5) and punting yards in a career (10,576). His 2014 Freshman All-American year was the best statistical season by a punter in Alabama’s 125-year history.
Still, Scott was never was named a First Team All-American, nor did he win the Ray Guy award as he arguably should have. Particularly galling was his 2014 season, when Scott’s statistics were comparable to or exceeded those of Tom Hackett, who had the benefit of playing 5800 feet above sea level in Utah. And, while he’s too decent of a kid to shade Hackett, an excellent punter in his own right, we will: You were robbed, J.K.
One reason Scott probably never quite got the respect that he deserved was his tinkering. In 2015, Scott changed his mechanics that sophomore season by altering his drop drop point. It would be the “worst” season of his Tide career. He returned healthy and back to his old mechanics with predictable results: a junior year that saw a return to his Freshman form. Then, this offseason, Scott again changed his mechanics in preparation for the pro game, which has resulted in sacrificing about a yard-and-a-half off his career distance in exchange for significantly more hang-time.
It has been a tremendous success: this conservative-but-aggressive approach has buried opponents: This season Scott has had just three punts returned for two total yards (second in the nation in both categories.) He has put 22 of 42 punts inside the 20-yard line, with just three touchbacks. He has forced 23 fair catches (54.7%,) which is second in the nation. And, he nearly single-handedly beat LSU. If you have about 20 minutes to spare, you can read his entire trophy collection: I hope his folks have an extra bedroom for all the accolades.
Call J.K. Scott whatever you want, the best on the planet, Alabama’s best weapon, the best pound-for-pound player on a team stocked with All-Americans and future Pro Bowlers, a campus hero, or an absolute game-saver...we’ll just call him the best ever.
Scott is projected to be a 4th-7th round selection in a competitive 2018 Draft class that features Florida’s Johnny Townsend — the nation’s most accurate punter, and Texas’ Michael Dickson, the Aussie underclassman Ray Guy winner and the strongest leg in the draft.
Welcome to the family of Alabama alumni, J.K. We wish you the very best of luck going forward.
Roll Tide and Merry Christmas to all of you.