Scott says hard work, long hours paid off with Steward

by - Senior Writer -
5 star linebacker Tony Steward is part of a stellar class that should be Top 10 once all is said and done.

Audio: Jeff Scott Signing Day Press Conference (WMA Format)

CLEMSON – Clemson recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, Jeff Scott, had a weary but satisfied look on his face Wednesday afternoon as he met with the media to discuss Clemson’s haul of talent in the 2011 recruiting class.

Scott and the Clemson coaching staff put the wraps on what should be a Top 10 class once all is said and done, signing seven of the Top 150 players according to ESPN, and he said that his recruiting lessons began at an early age.

Scott said he used to travel with his dad, Clemson coach Brad Scott, around Florida on Fridays on recruiting trips.

"It’s rewarding to walk into schools in Florida and it created an easy connection for me because my dad recruited in Florida,” Scott said. “I remember going with my dad on Fridays in his Oldsmobile courtesy car. I would get to miss school on Fridays and go Jacksonville, and going into the different schools and eating lunch, and then going to the games that night. I remember sitting in the house as an eight-year old, a coach's son and listening to my dad talk to those prospects. Just growing up around it was beneficial, and it prepares you for the ups and downs.”

The Tigers had more ups than downs on Wednesday, and his experience helped Scott bring out three of Florida’s biggest prospects in linebacker Tony Steward, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Mike Bellamy.

Steward, the nation’s No. 1 linebacker prospect, was considered to be a lock early on for Florida St., but Scott said it was the time and commitment the coaches put into recruiting Steward that made the difference.

"Maybe I'm just an optimistic person, but I felt all along that he would come to Clemson," he said. "He didn't talk about the depth chart. He didn’t talk about wins and losses. He was looking for a family environment."

Scott said he spent between 100 and 150 hours on the phone with Keith Cromwell, Steward’s high school coach, and even became well-known in St. Augustine.

“I was telling somebody those 15 minutes before the announcement was the longest 15 minutes I’ve ever experienced,” Scott said. “I was waiting and thinking back to the first time I went by his school his 10th grade year. The last six weekends, I’ve flown into St. Augustine, and when I would call in to reserve my rental car, they would pick up the phone and say ‘Coach Scott?’ They could read it on the Caller ID because I was down there so much.

“My wife can tell you that every night for the last 30 nights, I have been on the phone with people who have information and influence, and you try to find out what you can. I know sometimes you work harder on guys you don’t get, and a lot of people said we were crazy for continuing to work on Tony after he said he was leaning toward another school. But after meeting him, I knew he was a strong young man, like C.J. Spiller, who could stand up in front of that school at the ceremony he had today and make the decision he made.”

Scott said they had even worked with Steward in preparing him for today’s announcement.

"That ceremony, that's something we had talked about for the last six months,” he said. “We even showed him a video of Spiller's announcement; we sat down and watched it with him to help prepare him for that moment. Just to see him stand up there today and do that was pretty exciting."

The Tigers almost didn’t get a chance to sign Steward after he cut it close in making it to Clemson for his official visit.

"He was supposed to come up that Friday (Jan. 14), but he didn't return my call until 9 p.m. that night,” Scott said. “He said ‘Hey coach, don’t worry, we are going to leaving about 1 a.m.’

He said they would be here around 8:30, and we weren’t even sure he was going to show up. But I called him, and he said they were just getting on I-385 early that morning. With Tony, I felt all along he loved Clemson. I just felt he'd end up coming here."

Scott said the Clemson coaching staff had in 35 official visitors and signed 29 of them, and said it all starts with the people around the university.

"One of our biggest selling points here at Clemson are the people," he said. “For someone to spend 48 hours here, on campus, around coach Swinney and our coaching staff, they see and get an idea of what we're about. That is very strong.”

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