Web extra | Backup quarterback J.K. Scott: "For me, it was bittersweet"
J. K. Scott came to the UW in 1997 from suburban Los Angeles, a quarterback with a powerful arm, glittery statistics, a cheerful disposition...
Seattle Times staff reporters
J.K. Scott came to the UW in 1997 from suburban Los Angeles, a quarterback with a powerful arm, glittery statistics, a cheerful disposition and an almost perfect grade-point average.
In Seattle, few things worked out as planned.
His freshman year, Scott shared a dorm room with Anthony Vontoure, a defensive back from Sacramento.
"It was quite an experience.... I had seen quite a few different characters but Anthony definitely took the cake. He definitely had an opinion that he was willing to share with everyone, whether they were wanting to hear it or not.
"I've tried to make sense of that time living with him. Honestly, a lot of it was very difficult. He was very depressed. He drank a lot. He had some sort of malt liquor in his drawer and every day, he would start the day off with that. He often missed classes.... And he slept more than anyone I've ever met.
"Whenever we would go out to a party or something, we'd invite Anthony. It was a coin toss if he would come or not, and how he would act. You would never know if he was going to be mad, pissed off, quiet or jovial, joking Anthony."
"... He had this one shirt he always wore, it said, 'Chicks hate me.' He was proud to wear it. But he really wished it wasn't the case."
Vontoure struggled academically at the UW, and often clashed with coaches. In time, the coaches would learn that he likely had bipolar disorder. He left after the 2000 season. He died two years later, in a struggle with sheriff's deputies.
Scott pursued a degree in speech communication.
"Most of the talk with the guys, and this isn't everyone, was, 'What are the easiest classes we can find?' For everyone there it's football first, and education second, as an afterthought. Part of it is that late-teenage, early-20s male thinking. Education is not high on the priority list."
As for football, Scott was a backup quarterback, never managing to break the starting lineup. The position was handed from Brock Huard to Marques Tuiasosopo to Cody Pickett, with Scott listed as second or third on the depth chart.
Each year Scott would participate in about 100 practices. He'd also put in long hours studying film and attending meetings and workouts.
In 1998 and 1999, Scott completed one pass, for 3 yards. In 2000, he made it onto the field for the final series of the Huskies' blowout win over Washington State. To run out the clock, he took a knee on three straight plays. That gave him a season-ending stat line that read: three rushes, minus 4 yards.
Scott went with his team to the Rose Bowl: "For me, it was bittersweet ... . I had a great time with all the events surrounding the game. But obviously, growing up, I envisioned myself being the one on the field playing that day."
When Scott was recruited, Jim Lambright was head coach. But Lambright was fired after the 1998 season and replaced by Rick Neuheisel.
"Then we had Rick, Slick Rick. He was a very personable guy. He caught Seattle by storm, sweeping in through the door like Kramer, playing guitar, and bending the rules as much as possible to make sure the guys got all the little perks."
After the 2000 season, Scott transferred, even though he had just one year of eligibility remaining. If he has one regret, he says, it might be that he didn't leave earlier: "But then I would not be a part of that Rose Bowl team."
Scott transferred to Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Va. He started one game — the season's last — and threw a late interception that cost the game.
After his stint at Liberty, Scott still didn't have a degree. But he had convinced Barbara Hedges, the UW's athletic director, to provide him with a post-eligible scholarship, allowing him to finish what he'd started. "Hedges told me I'd been a team player. The way I sold it to them, it would be good for their [athlete] graduation rates."
Coming back as just a student "gave me an opportunity to look at the university in a different light. I lived further away, with a couple of other regular students.... I felt like I was engaged more in class, I was setting up study groups. It was a different perspective. I would not have traded being a student athlete, but it was good for me to step outside that arena, also."
In June of 2002, he received his bachelor's degree.
Scott now lives in New Hampshire where he teaches and coaches at a private boarding school. He's married, with two children. He's also taking classes, pursuing a master's degree in education at Plymouth State University.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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