GAINESVILLE — Most high school recruits model their game after a college or pro athlete who plays their position.
Jordon Scott, however, is an exception.
He’s a 6-foot-1, 350-pound defensive tackle from Pinellas Park High School in Largo. His commitment to the Gators last week helped fill a major need for the team in this recruiting class.
UF has sent a few defensive tackles to the NFL in recent years, but Scott, a Florida fan, doesn’t look up to them or study their film.
“I low-key think I’m a DB at heart,” Scott said. “I watch Vernon Hargreaves and Jalen Tabor highlights all the time.”
Scott’s love for them is rooted in his path to Gainesville: His rare size and array of abilities haven’t always been there, nor have the big-time scholarship offers.
“I never thought I’d be an SEC football player,” Scott said. “I didn’t start in little league. Back then, I wouldn’t have saw this coming.”
But when Scott got to high school, he moved up to the varsity team as a freshman and became a starter. He began blossoming in his sophomore season, dominating the line of scrimmage with explosive penetration and sheer strength.
However, Scott stood 5-foot-11 at the time and was rapidly adding weight to his once 290-pound frame.
“A lot of coaches came through,” Scott said, “and told me they were looking for 6-3 guys weighing 300. That definitely wasn’t me.”
Scott camped at Florida last summer, hoping his physical talent could make up for his measurables. It did, but Gators defensive line coach Chris Rumph wanted Scott to develop his game more.
“I like coaches that aren’t going to be fake and lie to you,” Scott said of Rumph. “He kept it real and told me I needed to loosen up my hips and kind of be more agile. My whole grind after that was training hard so I could get that offer from UF.”
Scott got a personal trainer, Marcus Floyd, and went to work.
“For the past year,” Scott said, “we’ve been doing fundamentals, hand speed, agility, footwork, everything to make me a complete player. I did more conditioning than anything.”
At one point, Floyd had Scott running 40 sets of 110-yard sprints.
“That’s the most I ever ran in my life,” he said, “but that was one of the turning points in my football career.”
Scott’s training sessions with Floyd is how he ended up watching highlights of Hargreaves, instead of former Gators Dominique Easley or Sharrif Floyd.
“I don’t just do defensive line drills with my personal trainer,” Scott said. “There’s a group of us that work out with him. So instead of it just being strictly one position, we all do a gauntlet of things. I fell in love with all the DB drills. I guess that’s where I get my first step from.”
Scott elevated his play as a junior, and Florida State offered him after his tape came out. He gained several more offers this spring, including Ole Miss, Tennessee and the coveted one from Florida.
“It kind of felt like a movie a little bit, to be real with you,” Scott said. “After I started getting SEC offers, I looked back at my highlights and continuously watched them. I was just went, ‘Wow. I really played like that.’
“I didn’t think UF would be interested in a normal dude like me. I always wanted to be a Gator and the opportunity presented itself. They showed a lot of interest. I was talking to three or four coaches a day, so I felt like I was wanted.”
Rumph came to evaluate Scott last month for his spring game and was blown away by his progression.
“He didn’t expect me to be in the whole game and making plays,” Scott said. “He was surprised that I didn’t get tired, and we were playing a hurry-up offense. That meant a lot to me. I just feel like it’s what I deserve for all the hard work and it’s confirmation to keep going.”
Now that his agility and stamina have improved, Scott’s next goal is lose weight.
“I’m trying to be 320 before August,” Scott said. “I already know Florida is going to cut me up, I’m going to help them out before I get there. I’m not trying to just be a hole-stuffer at nose tackle.
“I want to run around and make plays like Hargreaves.”