Delontae Scott: Path to the NFL Draft
When the defensive linemen take to the Indianapolis field on Saturday at the NFL Combine, one name will be missing from the list of attendees. Despite having a breakout season for SMU in 2019, Delontae Scott wasn’t invited to Indianapolis. He has been overlooked his entire football career, and although he knows one event doesn’t define his opportunity to succeed at the next level, it still serves as extra motivation as he heads to the 2020 NFL Draft.
“For sure, that’s exactly what it did. It made me more hungry, I need that I guess. I know those don’t make or break you, getting to those. Even me going to the NFLPA game doesn’t guarantee I get drafted or not. I understand all that stuff. I just gotta control what I can control.”
The Path to the Draft starts in Irving, Texas
His journey to the NFL Draft started in Irving, Texas. One of five children, and the younger of twin brothers, Delontae Scott formed a healthy competitive nature with his older twin, Michael, which continues to this day.
“We were used to sharing everything, so we always wanted more in a way. I guess that’s what started our competitiveness. We tried to see who could eat the most, who could beat who on video games more, racing, anything.”
Both Scott brothers were introduced to the football field at a young age, but it wasn’t until late in high school that Delonate Scott discovered his love for the game.
“It was one of the first sports I played when I was a kid. My mum put me in to football. But my real love of football didn’t come until high school, really my senior year. I had a lot of fun that year. We went to the first round of playoffs, we lost, but that was a real intriguing year for me. Just playing football, just seeing what fun it could be.”
A crucial time for Delontae Scott
It was a crucial time to find his love for football. As a multi-sport athlete, including basketball and track, he knew that he wanted to go pro at one of them, and that senior year at Nimitz helped shape the direction of his athletic career. Despite choosing to focus on football, he knows that some of the attributes that made him a success on the track are helping in his journey to the NFL.
“Especially now I’m training for the draft, all of those same mechanics are being taught again. It’s pretty cool for me to be able to see how these movements that I did at high school is still helping me. It helped me through college, and it’s pushing me to go forward and keep furthering my career in the NFL.”
Despite a senior season at Nimitz where he contributed 11.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and garnered First Team All-District honours playing outside linebacker as well as wide receiver, Delontae Scott was only evaluated as a 2* prospect.
For him, it was just another obstacle to overcome and another motivator.
“I never really gave it too much attention. The only time I was reminded about it was because my brother was like a 3/4* recruit, and it was kind of weird because we were like the same person, you know what I mean? He was like 230lb, and I was like 200-215lb so I guess they were like “oh he’s smaller, he isn’t going to gain anyway weight or anything like that”. I never really let that get to me. It just, to me, shows that you can’t gauge your career off of stars.”
Staying close to home at SMU
Despite Nimitz not being one of the powerhouse schools in Texas, Delontae Scott received plenty of interest to continue his football journey further at the college level. One school, however, would allow him and his twin to continue their journey together whilst remaining close to home.
“It was actually pretty cool. We had a lot of schools come through but unfortunately a lot of schools couldn’t offer us because of our grade situation. Ended up with SMU because we wanted to stay close, and we didn’t want to risk going JUCO in another state. We ended up getting our grades right, getting everything fixed, and starting our career off at SMU. It was pretty cool.”
His career at SMU would have to wait another year until it would start on the field. In 2015 Delontae Scott had a redshirt year. Having played outside line backer and wide receiver at Nimitz, he would transition to playing on the defensive line at SMU and that would require getting a little bigger.
“I didn’t even expect to play defensive end. I never did an off-season program at high school, I was always doing another sport, so it was my first-time lifting weights every week. Didn’t like it at first coz I was like, I could be hooping or something, but I had to remind myself that I’m an athlete now, I’m just playing football, and I had to find a love for doing just that.”
Delontae Scott finds inspiration for adaptation
As well as getting physically bigger in that freshman year, he also had to learn the tools to succeed at a new position.
“It’s such a technical position. You really have to know how to use your hands, your footwork, your eyes. You’ve got to know what moves to use when you go against certain o-linemen. It’s a lot of stuff. I had to learn football, basically.”
He found inspiration in some of the best defensive linemen in the modern NFL.
“I look at a lot of guys. I wouldn’t just say it was one person, I have like a list. So, Von Miller. I watch the Bosa brothers, those two are the top two pass rushers in the NFL right now. Chandler Jones because he’s a long body. I like him. Demarcus Lawrence. Dee Ford. Frank Clark. I also watch the defensive tackles too, like Aaron Donald, for like inside moves because I had to play inside at college a little bit. I look at a lot of different guys with different moves and I practice their moves and see what works for me. That’s how you get better as a pass rusher.”
The first sack of many for Delontae Scott
His opportunity to put those moves to the test came in 2016. Against Memphis, Delontae Scott recorded his first career sack in a game that announced him to the college football world.
“I felt like a little kid. When I get a sack I’m so excited that I forget what I’m going to do! I end up screaming or just flexing or something, just trying to have fun with my teammates. Still remember it like it was yesterday. I just saw the quarterback and I was like, oh yes this is gonna be my first sack, I’m gonna smack him! My mindset was like, I gotta get back here more often!”
Motivated by the feeling of getting after the quarterback, Delontae Scott racked up seven sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss over the next two seasons. As a result, Athlon Sports named him to their All-AAC Conference Pre-Season Second Team heading into the 2019 season. Not for the first time in his career, the opinion of others didn’t match up to his own expectation.
“It motivated me more because I still felt like I was being kinda slept on, or I wasn’t being seen as one of the top pass rushers in my conference. I felt like I was the best pass rusher in my conference at the start of the season and I still feel like that now. It just made me feel like, ok let’s get to work. They say that you’re gonna do this and that, but I got goals for myself that doesn’t match that. I appreciate the knowledge and everything but I’m always reaching for more.”
Something special for SMU and the APG in '19
The result was a breakout season for Delontae Scott, and for SMU. He racked up career high tackles for loss (17) and sacks (9), as SMU had their first 10-win season and AP ranking since the 1980s. the Mustangs were one of the stories of College Football in 2019, and it was a special way to end his time there.
“I wanted to get a lot out of it. I’d worked hard, that’s something me and my d-line, we’re called the APG [Apply Pressure Group], we worked hard together, put a lot of hours in and we had a coach that wanted to push us and taught us how to work together, and on our own. I wanted to end my career, especially being from Dallas, on top. I wanted to let everyone know that SMU is one of the best teams in the nation.”
Delontae Scott making impressions in front of the NFL
His hard work and production in 2019 were rewarded with an invitation to the NFLPA Bowl, one of College Football’s most prestigious All-Star games.
“That was cool man. It was my first time in Cali, for one. That was a fun experience. Then playing in an All-Star game, playing with a great set of D-linemen while I was there. I got to be around some NFL legends. It was just fun, playing in the Rose Bowl, everyone says it’s one of the best stadiums. It was a great experience.”
“I felt like it was real good. I got to meet with some teams and see what they know about me. They get my story and everything, so that was pretty cool to do. They test how smart you are, your football IQ just a little bit. I got to show that I can compete with the best of the best, because I do feel like I’m one of the best players in this draft process.”
The next opportunity that Delontae Scott will get to impress in front of NFL personnel is at the SMU Pro Day.
“I’m pretty sure every team will be there at SMU. We got a lotta guys who can play, including myself. I’m gonna show them there. I showed them I can get after the quarterback at the NFLPA, and I’ll show them I can move, be fast, and be strong at the Pro Day. My expectation for the day is to hit the goals that I’ve got. I like to aim pretty high because I know what I can do.”
Passionate. Relentless. Energetic.
Delontae Scott is passionate about his ability to play at the next level, and he takes that on to the field on every play. His relentless pursuit of excellence is matched by his relentless pursuit of the quarterback. The energy that he takes on to the field is evident when he talks about the game.
Passionate. Relentless. Energetic.
He knows what he is capable of and the NFL is catching on. Several teams have told him that they can see him getting after the quarterback on a Sunday. Although he doesn’t know which team will take a chance on him when the 2020 NFL Draft comes around in April, he has a message for the team that does.
“What you see is what you get. There aint no hidden mirrors or smoke. I am who I say I am, and I am what you see. I am gonna surprise you in a positive way. I’m a man of my word. I’m gonna do my work, and make sure you get a return on your investment in drafting me.”
OLIVER HODGKINSON IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. HE ALSO WRITES ON THE NFL FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK. YOU CAN HEAR HIS OPINIONS ON ALL THINGS COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.
Feature Image Credit: 247 Sports
Huge thanks to Dolontae Scott for taking the time to speak to us and to his agent, Ayo, for helping arrange the interview.