Sept. 11, 2000
by Bo Rottenborn
In athletics, its a tremendous asset for a player.
Take former New York Met and St. Louis Cardinal Jose Oquendo. In his career, Oquendo hit just .256 with 14 home runs and had four seasons in which he hit worse than .225. Yet he played in over 1,000 major league games thanks to his versatility. Oquendo played every position in his 12-year major league career and that made him a valuable commodity.
Now, consider veteran Irish lineman B.J. Scott. He logged 98:50 of playing time in his first four years at Notre Dame and accrued 13 tackles. Yet, he was welcomed back for a fifth year by the coaching staff for one simple reason -- versatility.
Scott (who incidentally hit .385 as a baseball first basemen in his junior year of high school) played his first three collegiate seasons at defensive end. But last year the Irish offensive line needed some depth, so he was switched to center, where he was an able backup for starter John Merandi.
This year it was the defensive line that lacked experienced reserves so Scott was switched back to defense to back up Lance Legree at nose guard, a position he had not played significantly prior to this past spring. Versatility has made Scott a valuable piece of the Irish squad for the third year in a row, evidenced by the fact he has been the backup at a different position in each of those seasons.
The Brookville, Ind., native, along with fellow seniors Tony Driver and Brock Williams, is among a trio of players who rejoin the Irish defense in 2000 after not seeing action on that side of the ball a season ago. Driver shared the tailback load in '99 and Williams did not play at all. These additions, along with the switch of junior John Owens from tight end to right defensive end, are aimed at softening the blow of losing six starters from a defense that held the opponent under 20 points just twice in 12 games.
Number 93 is optimistic about the 2000 Irish defense, saying he thinks the defense "looks great right now. There are a couple changes the coaches made in the offseason that we've been implementing. I think the defense is playing great and I'm extremely excited about the way things look. I think people are going to love to watch our defense. It's going to be fun."
Scott adds some much-needed depth to a defensive line corps that has just five returnees who played a snap on defense last year. But Scott is far from a stranger to the defensive side of the ball. He played both ways at Franklin County High School, but says that defense was "the side of the ball I wanted to play all through high school. I did play both ways, but I always wanted to play defense. It was always my better position so I was excited to get a chance to play here (at Notre Dame)."
Scott was successful in high school, earning all-state honors in 1994 and '95 as a defensive tackle. In his senior season, he made 110 tackles and registered five sacks and was the only lineman listed as a finalist for Indiana's "Mr. Football" Award. Also, Scott captained his team to an appearance in the state championship game in '95.
At Notre Dame, Scott was placed on the defensive line and redshirted his freshman year before seeing action in one game in '97.
In 1998, all of his hard work finally began paying off as he was the backup to Brad Williams and saw time in 10 games, missing a pair of contests with a pulled hamstring. Scott registered more than 90 minutes of playing time and was an integral part of the Irish defense that held opponents to 10 points or fewer in four of the final eight games of the season.
Last season the Irish offensive line lacked an experienced backup at center so Scott was switched to the backup center position.
Of the change, he says: "It was tough at first because I had been on defense for about three years at the time and you just get used to playing on one side of the ball. There are a lot of differences from one side to the other. It was a tough adjustment at first, but I just wanted to go over there (on offense) and be positive and work hard."
Because Merandi proved to be an iron man, leading the Irish in minutes, Scott was not needed on the field as much as anticipated and he played in just two games.
This past offseason the coaching staff realized that with the loss of three interior linemen to graduation, the defense lacked an experienced backup at nose guard. The logical solution seemed to be to move Scott back to his natural side of the ball, much to his delight.
"It was a good year (1999), but I'm glad I'm back on defense now," says Scott.
He says that the transition back was easier than switching to offense a year ago:
"I was only gone for about a year and I don't think I lost a lot," maintains Scott, "This spring it took me a little while to get everything back, but I'm finding now that I'm back to where I was before and I'm happy with how its going."
The versatility of the 6-3, 290-pound Scott does not end on the football field. In addition to his baseball prowess at Franklin County, Scott registered second- and third-place finishes in the state wrestling tournament and finished with the fewest career losses by a wrestler in school history.
The southern Indiana native says that he had always been an Irish fan and had always wanted to go to Notre Dame.
"I consider myself lucky I had the opportunity to come here. It's been a fun four years and I'm looking forward to another great year."
Scott graduated this past May from the College of Arts and Letters with major in psychology and computer applications and is now taking additional business courses. Thus far, he is undecided about his future: "I'm going to take this year to think about it. Right now I'm thinking of either trying to go into human resources or doing something with computers. I'm keeping my options open."
It's no surprise that even in academics, B.J. Scott shows his versatility.