Trojans Tab Scott as Football Coach
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Jan 17, 2013, 14:45
ETTRICK - Sometime after the 2010 football season, two unrelated paths seemingly bound for prosperity changed course unexpectedly.
They converged on the campus of Virginia State University on Monday morning amid talk of fresh starts and second chances.
VSU, which has posted a 9-11 record over two
Virginia State University unveiled Latrell Scott as its new football coach on Monday in Ettrick (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
seasons since making an appearance in the 2010 CIAA conference championship game, named Latrell Scott its head football coach at the Gateway Dining and Event Center in Ettrick.
Scott ascended quickly through the coaching ranks at several Division I schools and helmed the University of Richmond's program in 2010. But he resigned in August 2011 after he was charged with driving while intoxicated for the second time in seven years.
"Just 15 months later, I'm fortunate and truly blessed to be able to be in this situation again," Scott said Monday. "You never know what cards life is going to deal you, but I'm thrilled to be back and running my own program."
The enthusiasm is mutual, according to VSU President Keith T. Miller.
"We're delighted to have Coach Scott as a Trojan," Miller said from a lectern adorned with a VSU helmet. "We're ready to embrace what he wants to do with our football program."
That process will begin with Scott piecing together his coaching staff. A former All-American tight end at Hampton University, Scott said he expects to start the 2013 campaign with "a bunch of guys from all walks of life" coaching alongside him.
Scott - who has served as an offensive coach at Virginia, Tennessee, VMI and most recently at James Madison - said several of the prospective hires have D-I experience.
"I am in the process of assembling what I think is probably one of the better staffs that I've ever been around," Scott said. "It's a great group of guys. I'm not at liberty to talk about a lot of these guys right now, but it's going to be a unique group of guys."
In addition to the influx of new faces, Scott vowed to bring a renewed commitment to recruiting local players to play for the Division II school on the outskirts of Petersburg.
The Lee-Davis High School graduate tabbed the Central Region - and especially the high schools along the Route 10 corridor - as an untapped hotbed of football talent.
"It makes no sense to me that you would leave your backyard to go anywhere else," Scott said. "If I have the opportunity to go to [Thomas] Dale, [Lloyd C.] Bird, Meadowbrook, Petersburg, Prince George and places like that, it makes perfect sense for us to be right here and recruit local kids."
Scott met with the current VSU players for the first time on Sunday afternoon. The new coach's first order of business was to work with the student-athletes to restructure the team's weight room.
"That was a project that we embarked upon together," Scott said. "Because that was something we wanted to do as a team. These guys want to get better, they want to win and I really think they're a special group of guys."
It is fitting that the players' first interaction with their new coach involved adjusting the feng shui of their fitness facility. After all, if Scott's introductory comments are any indication, the team will be spending a lot of time utilizing its weight benches and cardio equipment.
"We met him yesterday and we got to bond with him," said Ibrahim Ngauja, a walk-on defensive back at VSU. "I think it's going to be a good experience. He said he's going to make us work hard."
VSU junior Dion Futch, a wide receiver who racked up 19 catches for 333 yards in 2012, said he is especially excited about Scott's reputation as a receivers coach.
"I feel like my opportunities are endless now," Futch said. "I feel like I can be better, and playing for a D-I coach could expose my talent."
Scott harped on the importance of academic and athletic balance and said the team will require the unwavering support of the university if it is going to become a program of national relevance.
"It won't be easy," Scott said. "But as I told those guys yesterday, we plan on starting right now."
As for his past transgressions, Scott said the missteps that ousted him as the Spiders' coach in 2011 taught him a lot about the responsibilities inherent in being a head coach.
"It's all about decision making, no matter what," Scott said. "You have to be able to manage everything at all times. I think the thing that I'll do better as a head coach this time is I'll look for the next problem. It's a problem-solving business.
"But I'll be better at making sure I navigate the landmines better than I did last time."
Scott replaced Andrew Faison, who was reassigned in November. Faison compiled a 58-53 record over 11 years at VSU.
Virginia State University football coach Latrell Scott (right) poses with VSU football players at a press conference on Monday in Ettrick (photo by Jacob Vaughan).