By Dave Krider
Darrell Scott apparently was born to play football. "When I was 1 or 2, I used to tackle my mom's legs," he recalled. "She knew I was destined to play football. It was God-given."
He particularly enjoyed the defensive side of the game. As a 7-year-old, he starred at free safety and led the league in interceptions. He played tackle and nose guard as he grew older. As a fifth grader he was the biggest player on his team and led in tackles. "I loved defense," he said enthusiastically.
In sixth grade, however, he was forced to become a full-time running back - a position he had played at times previously but one which was far from his favorite. "I was protesting that I was a defensive player," he related. "In eighth grade I began to like it, because I'd get the ball and run right past everybody. Nobody could stop me. It was 48-toss or 49-toss. Everybody knew it was coming, but couldn't stop it."
He exploded for 40 touchdowns that year playing for the Pop Warner Moorpark Packers.
Today Darrell Scott is proud to be called a running back - ranked No. 1 in the nation by such experts as Tom Lemming of CSTV. "He's big, fast, strong and the most productive," Lemming described.
The 6-foot, 212-pounder will be playing his final season at perennial California power Ventura St. Bonaventure after three outstanding campaigns at Moorpark. The move was controversial and costly.
"It was time to go because of some conflicts at the school and it wasn't a good environment," he explained. "I wasn't comfortable there anymore. I never thought I'd transfer. They treated me like a god over there, but what's done is done. I lost a pretty fair amount of friends. They were disappointed and really upset and I don't blame them. I'm really happy where I am now."
After scoring 30 touchdowns for Moorpark's unbeaten freshman team, Scott became a varsity workhorse as a sophomore. Even though he split time with a senior, he gained 1.988 yards on 292 carries and scored 19 touchdowns. His top game was 265 yards and four touchdowns against Thousand Oaks.
He ran track as a freshman and sophomore and hopes to run the sprints again this coming spring after sitting out his junior year.
His junior year of football was sensational as he finished 14th nationally (among schools reporting to MaxPreps.com) in rushing with 3,194 yards on 337 carries. That averaged out to 9.48 yards per carry and 228.1 per game. He also scored 45 touchdowns. Against Camarillo he exploded for 305 yards and six touchdowns. After scoring an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half, he was rewarded with a seat on the bench for the rest of the game.
Once as a junior, Scott looked at the defense and saw "nine guys in the box. We passed on that play. I always saw at least one on me man-to-man. Even if I went to the bathroom, he'd be there," he said facetiously. "I saw a lot of 4-3 and 5-2 defenses. Every week it was a challenge. I had to tell myself `you can't get fatigued.'''
Moorpark coach Tim Lins knows he has lost a great one. He calls Scott "one of - if not the best - running backs I have seen or coached in 20 years. He's powerful, but he can avoid a tackle and run away from people. He is more of a downhill runner. Somehow we lost communication. We were disappointed. I think he felt he had to make a move. The sky's the limit for him. He's certainly got the speed and size for the NFL."
St. Bonaventure's first-year head coach, Todd Therrien, recalls watching film on Scott when he was with Moorpark. "He was their whole offense," he noted. "Our game plan was to stop Darrell. His best attribute is that he runs downhill fast. You have to hit him before he gets started. He has great patience and waits to set up blocks. That combination of size, speed and strength you just don't find very often.
"He competes every day. He doesn't big-time our drills. He hits the hole and runs as fast as he can to daylight. He needs to develop a little more `shake' but that is not the kind of back he is. He's a power back with unbelievable speed. The way he's running, a few more moves would make him unstoppable."
Therrien sees Scott's transfer as "good and bad. A lot of fingers point your way any time you have a high-profile move. But, then, you get to coach one of the best players in the country. It makes us a better football team having to stop him in practice."
Scott has been timed in the 40 in a blazing 4.32 seconds, can bench press 295 pounds and has a 37-inch vertical jump. He already has broken the St. Bonaventure record by power-cleaning 335 pounds. He pronounced himself "150 percent" healthy in mid-July after sitting out two weeks due to a strained back suffered while playing air hockey.
The Golden State standout will carry a 3.0 GPA into his senior year. He enjoys history and hopes to major in business when he chooses a college. He still is considering up to 40 colleges because he "just wants to have fun" during his final campaign. He enjoys playing a variety of other sports and helps coach young running backs in a Pop Warner league. His favorite players are Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson.
Entering the upcoming season, his goal is to "be a leader and stay focused. I just want to have fun and win a championship. I think I proved everything as a junior. I want to get stronger in the weight room. I've bulked up and kept my speed."
As far as being the nation's No. 1 running back, Scott says with confidence, "I'm ready to prove that I am. That's been my goal since the end of my sophomore year. I am so ready to get on the field. I am going to bring it every game."