Safety Nick Scott a surprise selection as a PSU captain
April 12, 2017 12:00 AM
Matthew OHaren / Associated Press
Penn State special team star Nick Scott (24) was chosen as one of three captains for the Nittany Lions team this season.
By Omari Sankofa II / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Junior safety Nick Scott always felt as if he was a good choice for captain. He has maintained a positive attitude through several position switches and takes pride in his role on special teams.
But when the coaching staff told Scott, junior quarterback Trace McSorley and senior linebacker Jason Cabinda that they had been elected captains by their teammates, it took Scott by surprise. McSorley and Cabinda, coming off of big seasons, were obvious picks. Scott was not.
“When it happened, it was really hard to fathom,” Scott said. “It almost made everything about this program so much more personal for me, and it made me feel like I’m just that much more a part of our success or failure, for that matter. It’s a little bit of a heavy feeling, but it’s a good heavy feeling because I understand the gravity of what it means to be a captain and I’m ready to take on the responsibilities full force.”
Scott, McSorley and Cabinda were announced as captains at the beginning of spring camp. Scott will be the captain of special teams, while McSorley and Cabinda will captain the offensive and defensive units, respectively.
Unlike McSorley and Cabinda, Scott has flown under the radar. He was a featured player on special teams last season but joined Penn State as a running back — the position where he made one start as a redshirt freshman.
Before his career at Penn State, he played several positions at Fairfax High School in Brookline, Mass., including quarterback and wide receiver.
He switched to defensive back last spring after talking to coach James Franklin about how he could better impact the team. It only took him a week to feel comfortable in his new position, he said.
“When I moved to defense it didn’t take too long before I realized hey, maybe I’ve been a defensive guy my whole tenure as a football player and I didn’t know it because I was athletic,” he said. “You get away with athleticism in high school and of course you’re on offense, dominate offense. Once I moved to defense I really felt that hey, this is probably actually where my home is, especially considering how reckless I like to play, how aggressive I am and my ball skills.”
Scott was featured in a number of special team units in 2016 and ranked third on the team with eight special team tackles.
Scott said his toughness is what helped him transition to his new role. He has been working with co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks on his technique and is competing for a starting spot at safety.
“Special teams is like an overarching set of skills that you can use anywhere on the field at your specific position, which is a reason why I’ve been able to make the transition from running back to safety,” Scott said. “As far as coverage skills and safety, that’s something I’ve been working on a lot.”
Scott said it’s an honor to be a captain alongside McSorley and Cabinda, and he’s excited to embrace his responsibilities as the season approaches.
“I think a lot of people knew I was willing to do whatever it took for the success of the program on and off the field,” he said. “I think those are some key things that I think you want a captain to encompass.”
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