Three seasons ago Trevor Scott was a tight end at the University at Buffalo, and a pretty good one at that. Then along came new head coach Turner Gill, who in assessing his inherited talent decided the Bulls were in dire need of defensive ends. Scott made the switch, and just look at what's become of him since then.
Scott registered 19 sacks in 24 games and last season finished second in the balloting for Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the sixth round of the draft, reasoning that even in the NFL his quickness and explosiveness would offset his lack of size he brought to the position.
Upon making the team Scott served the standard rookie apprenticeship, which is to say he played mostly special teams. But that all changed last Sunday, when an injury to Derrick Burgess and other maneuverings bumped Scott up on the depth chart.
"The whole week leading up to the game I hadn't got a lot of reps and stuff, and then with Burg being down, pretty much Burg and everyone they just told me that I had to step up, enough being a rookie," Scott said by phone from Oakland on Thursday. "They were telling me you've just got to step in and play. And I thought, 'Shoot, I've got to make the most of this opportunity. They put me on the first team in the dime package, so any passing situation is when I would come in. I played more than I had all year."
It was more than an opportunity. It was a dream opportunity. Imagine if he could take down the guy quarterbacking the New York Jets.
"I thought, 'Shoot, it's Brett Favre, No. 4,' " Scott said. "How cool would it be for my first NFL sack to be on Brett Favre?"
Scott's welcome-to-the-NFL moment came in the third quarter, with the Jets facing a third-and-14. He slipped a double-team and dropped Favre for a loss.
"That feeling as soon as I hit him the first time and he went down, I was almost like shocked at first," Scott said. "The whole stadium was screaming, I just got like cold chills. Everyone was running up to me, just giving me high-fives and stuff. There was no greater feeling than that right there."
In overtime, Scott dropped Favre again for an 8-yard loss in a game the Raiders would win, 13-10. Those Scott left behind at UB took notice.
"It's great for our program, but more important it's great for Trevor," Gill said. "We always knew he had the talent, you just didn't know whether he would get that opportunity, particularly his first year, to go out and have an opportunity to play defensive end. You knew he'd have an opportunity to play some special teams, but to have an opportunity to go play defensive end, and rush the passer . . . I'm happy for him to get those opportunities."
Any reservations his Oakland teammates had about Scott were erased early on. At 6-foot-5, 255, he's built along the lines of a linebacker. But as 6-6, 315-pound offensive tackle Cornell Green discovered in training camp, that doesn't make Scott less than a handful.
"I knew he had something to bring to the table. The man's relentless," Green told the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm glad he's on our team, that's for sure."
Three years ago Scott was a tight end. One week ago he was hardly playing. Now he's one of five nominees for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week, with the results of the vote to come out today.
"It feels like it was forever ago and at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday I was catching balls," Scott said. "It just sort of like blows my mind almost where I've come from."