NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- It’s been a long, rocky road for Texas sophomore safety Christian Scott back into his team’s playing rotation.
Scott was ruled ineligible for the season shortly before the Longhorns’ Sept. 5 opener against Louisiana-Monroe. He was held out of the lineup until becoming academically eligible for the second semester -- meaning he can join the lineup in Thursday’s Citi Bowl Championship Series title game against Alabama.
“It feels really good to be out there,” Scott said. “The academics were a little overwhelming. I stumbled a little bit but I bounced back.I was able to do the things I needed to get back.”
Scott has worked on the scout team all season, mimicking future opponents who would see action against the Longhorns. One week, he showed the playing tendencies of Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis. Another week, he was Nebraska safety Larry Asante for the purposes of the Longhorns’ pre-game practices.
“I felt like I could help the team in some way,” Scott said. “I’m just trying to make our offense better.”
He might get his chance on defense in Thursday’s game, serving as an X-factor because the Alabama coaches haven’t seen much of him on tape.
During preseason practice, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Scott was one of the revelations of camp. Coaches said he was the hardest hitter in the secondary and was thought to be challenging Blake Gideon for a starting job at free safety before he was ruled academically ineligible.
He’s also expected to be a pivotal part of the Longhorns’ special teams, serving on all squads but the field goal and extra point teams. One of his most crucial roles will be as a gunner on punt coverage.
“I was able to practice, but just not able to play,” Scott said. “I never really had a chance to get rusty other than not being able to play.”
The physical nature he brings to the secondary would give the Longhorns a weapon to clamp down on Alabama’s interior running game keyed by Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.
“I’ve been waiting all season and I’m ready,” Scott said. “We have good coaches and they’re building a good game plan. However they want me, I’m ready to be used.”
The academic suspension has also helped Scott to grow up with a new attitude as he prepares for the bowl game against the Crimson Tide.
“This has changed me a lot as far as taking responsibility as far as classrooms go,” Scott said. “I’m just excited to be back out and playing again.”