FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If Trevor Scott hadn't been switched from tight end to defensive end by a new coach at the University of Buffalo, he probably wouldn't be playing in the NFL.
"I think about that all the time," acknowledged Scott, who turned 28 on Aug. 30.
After spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Oakland Raiders, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Scott signed a one-year contract with the New England Patriots on March 19. He is currently fourth on the defensive end depth chart behind Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham, but still carved out a niche on the 46-man game-day roster.
Scott played seven defensive snaps in last Sunday's season-opening win, and also was part of the kickoff coverage and punt coverage units.
The following is his "football journey":
When he first started playing football: "I started playing when I was a little kid, about 10 years old. I liked to run around and be active. A lot of my friends were getting into sports at that age, so I just kind of did everything."
First positions: "On defense, I was nose tackle. On offense, quarterback."
Playing at Potsdam (N.Y.) High School: "That was a time when you didn't have any care in the world. You weren't on scholarship; you were playing with all your buddies. It wasn't the type of pressure that you have today. It was fun. I was a kick returner, punt returner, and was always getting the ball on offense. On defense, I was an outside linebacker, so I never really came off the field."
Attending University of Buffalo: "It was my only offer. My junior year [of high school], they had a coach, Antonio Goss, who was the recruiter in my area. The only reason he went to Potsdam was because he heard there was 'a 6-5 guy up north.' He came and checked me out, and gave me information for one of their camps over the summer. I went to camp and the next day they offered me a full ride. It worked out pretty well. Where I'm from, not a lot of people go anywhere for sports."
Growing up in Potsdam: "I thought it was great. It's a sports-based community. It's a really small town, a country town, and everybody knows everybody. So when I went to Buffalo, I was kind of shell-shocked moving to a city life. I hadn't experienced that before, but it opened my eyes to a brand-new world."
Top memories at Buffalo: "No. 1, just my day on campus. Then my first Division I football practice. And then the first day that Coach Turner Gill got there and within that first week, him moving me from tight end to defensive end. So my first three years (including a redshirt), I was a tight end. But he got there and said, 'I want you to play D-end for us.' I just took it and ran with it. I think about it to this day: If I hadn't switched ... it was a big change in my life. I had never played D-end before."
Selected by the Raiders in the sixth round of the 2008 draft (169th overall) after totaling 19 sacks in his final two collegiate seasons: "I couldn't believe it, really, just from the fact of coming from a small town and going to Buffalo. Coming from Buffalo, there were only a few guys in the NFL. Just to be drafted was a blessing in itself. It was a great overall day for me, my family and my friends."
Summing up his four seasons with the Raiders: "Overall, I thought it was a great experience. It had a lot of ups and downs, of course, but that's football in general. I saw the highs to the lows -- from starting, to injuries, to being on the back burner, to working my way back. There were always new things, with different coaches and new schemes. We had a core group of guys and we always stuck together; Tyvon Branch, we were roommates together for four years. That class, we came in with 15 of them and last year there were five of us left. That's the NFL."
After totaling 12 sacks in his first two seasons, tearing his ACL in 2010: "I never had surgery before, so the whole rehab process, I was new to that. It tested me mentally and physically. To make it back onto the field again, it was huge for me. I don't think about it now. I just go out and play."
Why he left the Raiders after four seasons: "I wanted to go somewhere new, just test the waters a little bit and keep an open mind. It just so happens that I ended up here. After free agency opened up, I took a visit out here, talked to all the coaches, and thought things went pretty well. It felt right. I wanted to come back [to the] East Coast again, I wanted to win, and this is a great franchise."
Describing life as a Patriot: "It's a great experience. The atmosphere here is to win, and that's what everyone expects to do. It makes coming to work, and practicing hard, that much easier. It makes game day a lot of fun."
Playing reserve role at DE, front-line role on special teams: "I've played a lot of special teams. On defense, I've played end and linebacker. I've done everything, which makes it an easier transition."
Favorite teams growing up: "Originally, the Redskins. My dad loved the Redskins, so of course I did. Then I moved up to New York [when I was 9], and throughout high school and college I was a Giants fan."
What he likes about football: "I love the competitiveness about it. I love to be active and hit people. There is nothing better than beating a man across from you, one-on-one, and sacking the quarterback, or defeating the block and making a tackle. The camaraderie -- after you make a play, you celebrate together. There are so many emotions throughout pregame warm-ups, to the opening kickoff, to the national anthem. Throughout the game, it's highs and lows, and you have to stay poised and keep playing hard."
His football highlight: "It's always going to be your first NFL sack. It was on Brett Favre. My first and second were on Favre."
Mentors in his life: "I'd say my parents [Mike and Leah O'Leary]. My mother growing up, we had some things going on in our lives and she had to take us in by herself. She did a helluva job and then when she married Mike, she and him have always pushed me and my other brothers to be the best we can, just to have that hard-working attitude. They taught me to work hard and that there is no substitute for hard work; you can get wherever you want to go if you work hard. I always came about it with that mentality. That's why I feel like I'm where I am."