For video from Derrell Scott's announcement, click here: http://widget.newsinc.com/_cfvp/playlist16x9_player.html?CID=15348&WID=25274&VID=25547915&freewheel=91764&sitesection=havenews_hom_non_fro&external_url=http://www.havenews.com/
After a long and sometimes grueling recruiting process, Havelock’s Derrell Scott was anxious to announce his college decision on Monday.
“I won’t talk too long and go ahead and tell all you guys what you want to hear and what you came here for,” he told a large crowd that attended his press conference in the school’s performing arts center. “The next four years, I’ll be playing football at The University of Tennessee.”
Scott selected the hat of the Tennessee Volunteers over the South Carolina Gamecocks and Florida Gators. He made the choice with his mother Debra, father John, uncle Andrew and brother Corey by his side.
“Basically it came down to my relationship with coach (Butch) Jones and Coach G (Tennessee running backs Robert Gillespie),” Scott said with a smile. “The hardest thing was trying to read into what all of the coaches were saying because they all tell you the same thing. They all say ‘you are the greatest player and we want you to come to our school,’ but I just felt Tennessee was the right fit for me and I’m confident in my decision.”
Scott led the Rams to three straight 3A state championships and was Most Valuable Player of the 2013 title game in December.
He rushed for more than 6,096 yards in his high school career and never missed a start in 63 career games. He holds numerous school records, including single-season rushing yardage and career rushing yardage.
This past season, he rushed for 2,148 yards and scored 25 touchdowns.
“It is the happiest moment for me seeing him accomplish his dreams,” Debra Scott said. “We advised him as parents and helped him weigh the pros and the cons, but we told him ‘you and only you have to make the decision.’”
Scott’s father John, a former U.S. Marine, was beaming ear-to-ear with joy for his son reaching his dream of playing in the Southeastern Conference.
“It’s an indescribable feeling, man,” John Scott said. “He has worked so hard for this and I am just so proud of him.”
Scott said he made his decision over the weekend, after Jones and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made visits to his home last week.
“Me and parents really sat down and talked about it and decided it would be the best school for me to attend,” Scott said.
Even Havelock head coach Jim Bob Bryant was unaware of Scott’s decision.
“I got to be a fan today like everybody else,” he said.
Scott, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, said another reason why he selected Tennessee was the opportunity for early playing time.
“That was a reason why I went there, not the whole reason, but a pretty good reason,” Scott said. “I knew I could get a chance to get on the field and get an opportunity to play. The coaches told me that I would get an opportunity, so I’m just going to go in there and work hard and see what happens.”
Tennessee went 5-7 during the 2013 season, but Scott said he was impressed when he visited the Knoxville campus for a game and saw the support of fans in Neyland Stadium and the effort of the football team.
“Well, 110,000 people really speaks for itself,” he said of the Tennessee crowd. “Being there and seeing the atmosphere for the game, it was crazy. And, it was the way their team played. They didn’t have the best year, but everybody on the team, they fought the whole year and played hard. That said a lot to me.”
Scott said the recruiting process wasn’t easy.
“The worst thing is having to turn down coaches that you built really good relationships with over the years and just telling them that ‘I can’t come here. There’s a better place out there for me,’” he said. “That’s probably one of the toughest parts.”
He said he felt a sense of relief announcing his decision.
“It feels great,” he said. “Finally I can get back to normal because I don’t have to worry about people asking me where I’m going to school at.”
Scott is ranked as a four-star recruit by national recruiters and carries a grade-point average of 3.8.
“Coach Jones told me that Tennessee is on the upswing and that he wanted me to be the running back to help take them there,” Scott said. “I have a lot of dreams and today I can check one off the list of playing in the SEC. It’s a relief. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
Scott’s verbal commitment is non-binding. He is expected to sign his binding national letter of intent on Feb. 5, the first day high school players are eligible to sign with colleges.