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NU defensive tackle Tyler Scott beginning to make a name for himself

NU’s Tyler Scott was three-sport athlete high school before settling football.  |  STEPHEN J. CARRERA~For Sun-Times Media

NU’s Tyler Scott was a three-sport athlete in high school before settling on football. | STEPHEN J. CARRERA~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 21, 2011 10:26AM

Defensive end Tyler Scott made it just in time.

As he and a graduate
assistant from Northwestern’s football program drove up Saturday to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, the Wildcats were disembarking from the team bus and going into the stadium. Scott, who had flown into Iowa City from Youngstown, Ohio, about an hour before was able to fall in line with his teammates.

And Scott, a 6-4, 260-
pound sophomore, didn’t lose focus after attending his grandfather’s funeral that morning in Ohio.

‘‘I made it clear to the coaches that I wanted to play [Saturday], and they did
everything to get me there,’’ Scott said. ‘‘Once I got into the locker room, everything was the same — same rituals and same stuff. It was a long day, but my family was really supportive.’’

Scott, a first-year starter, made three tackles (one of them for a loss) and batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage in NU’s 41-31 loss at Iowa. He was singled out Monday by coach Pat Fitzgerald, who named him the Wildcats’ defensive player of the week.

Scott also had seven tackles Oct. 8 against Michigan and became the first NU player since 2009 to recover two fumbles in a game Oct. 1 at Illinois. But the numbers mean little to Scott, who said all he wants is to get better each week.

‘‘It’s been a goal of mine to start and help the team as much as I can,’’ said Scott, who sat out his freshman season with a shoulder injury.
‘‘During the spring I made my biggest strides, and through training camp me and Kevin Watt competed back and forth. That competition really helped me.’’

Fitzgerald said he loves Scott’s athletic ability. It’s no wonder, then, that Scott played football, basketball and baseball at Howland High School in Warren, Ohio. Scott said he tried to be a ‘‘jack of all trades,’’ something his parents always taught him.

‘‘I really liked basketball; it was my favorite,’’ said Scott, who ended up quitting the sport in high school. ‘‘I wasn’t that tall for the position I was playing, and I wasn’t getting a scholarship to go anywhere. I was a typical 6-4 high school center.’’

But Scott, who was an outside linebacker in high school, was getting attention in football — to an extent. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel made a courtesy visit to Howland, but he had his eye on another lineman in Scott’s class.

Scott said choosing NU was a ‘‘no-brainer’’ when Fitzgerald offered him a scholarship. The only other offers he received were from Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

‘‘We recruit Ohio hard after we leave Chicago,’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘We thought he was going to be a great fit. We liked him from the get-go.

‘‘His was one of the more fun home visits I had been on. The house was packed, and I said, ‘Who are all you people?’ I couldn’t remember everybody’s name.’’

Scott played with a heavy heart against the Hawkeyes, but he was able to find some levity when discussing a teammate. It has been said around campus that Scott is fellow defensive lineman Vince Browne’s twin; the two look shockingly alike.

‘‘There have been occasions where I actually walked into my adviser’s [office], and she said, ‘Hey, Vince,’  ’’ Scott said. ‘‘I said, ‘It’s good to see you, but I’m not Vince.’

‘‘I think he’s more the big man on campus. But we’re both big guys with a shaved head and dark hair.’’

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