Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

May 4, 2012

Letters galore

Brayden Scott, teammates drawing college interest thanks to recruiting system in place at Sequoyah.

On the wall behind the desk of Sequoyah head coach Brent Scott hangs a dry-erase board with a list of six schools that appears to have been hastily transcribed in blue ink. At first glance — or third glance, for that matter  — the seemingly random scrawl seems devoid of any significance; which is perfectly ironic, considering its author.

“Kansas State offered (former Sequoyah quarterback) Nathan Stanley early on, and he never did take it,” said Scott. “Come November, they tell him that he has to commit or they’re pulling the offer. So now, all of a sudden, he’s sitting there in November and December with no offers. His mom is my boss. She’s freaking out. I said, ‘Everything is going to be fine. I promise.’ I get here at 7:30 in the morning on Signing Day and he still has no offers. Then, all of a sudden, here the calls come. I wrote them all up there as I got them.”

Five years have passed since Stanley ultimately signed with the University of Mississippi, but the scribbled list remains in the office of his former head coach.

“I leave it up there for a couple of reasons,” said Scott. “I show that to (Chris) Littlehead and Zack (Robinson) and whatever kid wants to get recruited, and I say, ‘Look, on Signing Day he didn’t have anything. Two hours later, he had offers from Virginia, Florida Atlantic, Maryland, Ole Miss, Oregon State and Louisiana Tech.’ I left it up there to remind myself that I have to keep calling and keep digging for the kids. I call schools for my guys every day.”

It wasn’t always an exact science, but Scott and his staff have developed a recruiting system that has resulted in a string of four consecutive NCAA Division I signees in as many years.

“I got here in 2004. In ‘05 we realized that we had a special player in a kid named Travis Boswell,” said Scott. “If it wasn’t for Travis, none of these kids would be getting recruited. He was the guinea pig for us. We didn’t know how to get him recruited, but we knew that we needed to do something for him. Gena Stanley came up with a blueprint for the young man. We went to camps and combines, and it paved the road for the kids after him. The kid after him was Nathan Stanley, so we had a blueprint in place for Nathan. Well, times changed, but it paved the way for (Oklahoma State signee) Chris Littlehead. It changed a little more, but it paved the way for (Tulsa signee) Chris Hummingbird. Times changed, but it paved the way for (Oregon State signee) Zack Robinson.”

Scott’s son, quarterback Brayden Scott — who received his first unofficial scholarship offer as a freshman — will make it 5-for-5 when he selects his collegiate destination in February. The younger Scott is the beneficiary of an impressive gene pool (grandfather, Bill, played in the NFL; father, Brent, quarterbacked at Oklahoma State), a program that promotes its athletes, and a predecessor that navigated a similar process.

“I went to camps with Nathan,” said Brayden Scott. “I went to all of his games. I saw his pile of letters. But, at that age, I was more caught up in the fact that he was my hero. I was just watching him. I wasn’t paying attention to what the coaches were telling him. But I learned from him, from everything from the way he did interviews to the way that he carried himself at camps.”

Scott — the most decorated prep athlete that Cherokee County has ever seen — has been on the road a lot lately in what ESPN Tide Nation has dubbed “The Brayden Scott Tour.” Most recently, he competed in the Elite 11 Camp in Atlanta and performed well enough to receive a bid to the Las Vegas camp, and another shot at qualifying for the final Elite 11 field in Los Angeles. But, Scott is quick to point out that it’s not all fun and games.

“When I go places, I’m representing my school,” he said. “I want it to say Brayden Scott, but I also want it to say Tahlequah-Sequoyah. I’m proud to go to school here. I’m proud to be a Native American. When I go to these things, a lot of people don’t understand that it’s not a vacation. I’m not going to Atlanta to see the Atlanta Hawks. I’m going to work. I haven’t had a weekend off since January. But that’s the price that you pay, and it’s well worth it.”

The influx of attention that has been placed upon the prep standout is also of indirect benefit to the players around him; a fact that has not been lost on Scott.

“I don’t say no to any coach that wants to come, no matter where they’re from,” he said. “If they’re watching my tape, they’re also watching Niko Hammer, Jordan Colburn, Tanner Sheets, Robert Smith. They’re watching all of these guys. When these coaches come, we all meet them. We all shake their hand. Let’s say a school isn’t looking at me, they’re looking at Tanner Sheets. Tanner’s my center. He and I are in every play. So they also see me. I think we all help each other with each and every college. If NSU is looking at Niko, they’ll also see Robert Smith. Or if they’re looking at the defense, they’ll see Tanner, Greydon (Elrod) and Jordan. They’ll see them all at once. You always hear stories about coaches that were recruiting one guy, but while they were watching film, they found another guy. We all help each other, and that’s what I like about the process. It’s not all about me. It’s never been all about me.”

Scott credits his father’s camping strategy for much of Sequoyah’s recent recruiting success, as well.

“Some people just don’t know, I don’t think,” said Scott. “This is our world. My dad can get anyone recruited. If the kid is willing to do what he says, and the opportunities are made available, he will get recruited. I don’t want to put it all on my dad’s shoulders, but he knows a lot about this. The great thing about this school is that they have always allowed for that. We don’t have to pay to go to a lot of these camps that are getting our guys scholarships. We don’t go somewhere without a purpose. There is a purpose for every team camp, every individual camp. If we’re there, and the right people see us, there is a huge benefit to that. You can’t recruited by someone that never gets to see you.”

Brent Scott — who has, by his own admission, been far more hands-off with his son’s recruitment than he normally is with the rest of his players — finds value in identifying the correct combination of camp sites.

“You just can’t go to an OU football camp thinking that you’re going to get your kid recruited,” he said. “You go to an OU football camp and it’s coached by high school coaches. We feel like Sequoyah football has figured out the places to go.”

Scott credits the Sequoyah administration with providing more than ample opportunity to date, but his own passion for boosting his athletes to the next level is equally noteworthy.

“We haven’t heard the word ‘no’ very much. We still go to all of the places that we want to go that are within our budget,” he said. “It’s not my job to say that this kid is a D-1 player. I’m a high school coach. Our guys are put right in front of the coaches that need to see them. We’re not paying money to a camp when Coach (Josh) Heupel watched every one of my guys throw and catch the other day. Coach Gundy, Coach Monken, Coach Petrino, whoever; my guys are right in front of all of those guys. That’s why you come to Sequoyah. We’re going to put you in front of the right people. And if they’re not going to come to us, then we’ll go see them. That’s one thing that I learned from Ms. Stanley, ‘Let’s go where they’re at.’ She was instrumental in helping these kids get exposure, and she caught a lot of flack because people thought it was just about catering to her son. That simply wasn’t the case. If we had a kid that we thought was good enough to go to a camp, we go. The bottom line is, if you’re in our locker room, we’re going to help you get found.”

Five years ago, Virginia was the last on a list of schools to call on the services of a Sequoyah stand-out football player. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.

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