Referred to as the “Aaron Rodgers of Division III,” Bryan Scott is a two-time Spring League MVP. Coaches who have worked with Scott can’t understand why he isn’t in the NFL.
Let’s talk about a prospect working hard for an NFL opportunity. Bryan Scott played college football at Occidental, a Division III school located in Los Angeles, California. He’s been successful everywhere he has performed on the field, a breakout star in college from the second game of his freshman season to outperforming Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on The Spring League field in 2018.
At 6’1″ and 210 pounds, Scott has the proper size to compete in the NFL. Reviewing the game film, he reminded me of former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book, drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. I think Scott is much more consistent than Book.
Coaches that have worked with Scott rant and rave about his work ethic and his ability. How has he not received a shot at the NFL level?
Bryan Scott comes from humble beginnings
Bryan Scott was at one time a terribly small teenager. Up until 6th grade, Scott played fullback and linebacker before switching to the quarterback. His size wasn’t ideal. In fact, entering his freshman year at Palos Verdes High School in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, he stood at just 5’1″ and was horribly scrawny. Scott was a sports fanatic, playing three sports growing up.
“I was a great basketball player,” Scott told me, “and basketball was my true passion as a sport. I also was the closer for all my little league baseball teams growing up.” His teams won championships just about every year as a child. “Then, I just wasn’t growing like the other kids, so I decided to stick with football.”
However, once the fall arrived for his senior year, Scott had finally hit his growth spurt and was able to compete for the starting position. Palos Verdes went 11-3 that year while collecting the 2012 Southern Section California Interscholastic Federation Championship. Palos Verdes hadn’t competed for such a championship in 47 years.
That State Championship was almost the last game that Scott ever played. “We won the state championship, and I was good. I was happy with it,” Scott told Sporting News in an interview. “And I played in this all-star game, and my head coach from college (Doug Semones) actually ended up being there.”
Semones was more than impressed with Scott’s ability. He invited the youngster to visit his school, Occidental. “I’ve never heard of Occidental,” Scott recalled telling Semones. “I went up there and I loved it. I went to their practice. It was kind of fate.”
Getting his chance early
Fate, perhaps, in this case, is indeed the proper word to describe this. Scott’s focus entering college was to absorb knowledge. “My mentality going into that season was to learn the offense,” Scott told me. “Then the next year to be ready to take the helm and go from there. That obviously took a different turn,” he added with a chuckle.
In Scott’s second game as a freshman, Semones pressed him into service due to an injury. He didn’t flinch at the moment. “To be honest with you, I was excited for the challenge,” he remembered from entering the game. “I was confident in what I could do when I stepped in there and just the attitude I could bring to the team.
“The hardest part about it was proving to the seniors and the older guys that even when the starter went down – that I was going to come in and take this team to new heights. After that first game, I would say the team saw that and were really excited about the future.”
Capitalizing on his opportunity
Instead, Scott started rewriting the record books. He finished his freshman season named the SCIAC Newcomer of the Year, Second Team All-Conference, and set the Occidental single-game passing record with 476 yards and 6 touchdowns against La Verne.
In 2014, Scott went on to perform with the USA U-19 team and competed internationally in Kuwait. Team USA went on to win the gold medal with Scott at the helm, earning an MVP award for his performance. “[It] was another amazing experience that I and my family will never forget,” Scott told me. “With my grandfather’s military history, playing in front of the troops in Kuwait and being able to represent the USA was an incredible honor.” Scott’s grandfather was Major General James Patterson, who served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.
His college career continued successfully too. He was the first-team all-conference quarterback in 2015 and 2016. In 9 games in 2016, Scott set the school record for passing yards in a single season (3058). He ended his career as the conference record holder in career passing yards and completions.
The Spring League legend
Bryan Scott got an opportunity to attend a mini-camp with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. However, it didn’t materialize into a shot at Training Camp, so Scott turned his attention to The Spring League in 2018. The event was drawing national attention as the return of former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. Bart Andrus, his head coach that year, had never heard of Scott before he walked into camp. He was banking on former LSU star quarterback Zach Mettenburger to be his star on the field. Mettenburger had worked with Andrus on the Tennessee Titans roster.
Scott instead took the showcase in Austin, Texas, by storm.
“I had Steve McNair through Super Bowl 34. As a head coach in NFL Europe, I had Danny Weurffel and Shaun Hill,” Andrus told Sporting News. “In the UFL I had Troy Smith and Eric Crouch on the same team; both won the Heisman Trophy. Bryan is in that class as far as his talent.”
The respect between Andrus and Scott certainly, to this day, works both ways. “I loved playing for Coach Bart Andrus and still do. We have never lost a game together.”
Bryan Scott’s performance took the attention of the NFL.
With all of the hype around Manziel and his return to football, opportunities were present for Scott. The pressure was on. “I love pressure situations,” Scott told me, “and to step up when my team needs me to… I have done this my entire life.” ESPN was covering Manziel closely, and NFL Scouts flocked the sidelines every day during practice. “I just wanted to prove what I could to against the big-time players,” Scott said.
Scott outplayed everyone in the league, including Mettenburger and Manziel, and was awarded the MVP award through his two games. He fired five touchdown passes on just 28 attempts. On the ten drives that Scott quarterbacked, his team scored eight touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over. “The game against Johnny, I think, opened eyes for NFL Scouts and put my name on the map,” Scott recalled.
“It wasn’t really about a certain moment,” Scott told me, “I think the play and my teammates saw it and truly that’s all that matters is the guys next to you and who they believe in and want to follow into battle.”
The season certainly gave hope to Scott as a chance to get back on the NFL field. “That trip and experience,” he said, “being named MVP, really gave me the confidence that I could play at the next level. Not just be a roster spot – but that I can play with whoever, whenever, on any day I want to go against those big-name guys. I love the pressure of it and the moments that come with it.”
A special season
Following the special Spring League performance, Bryan Scott earned opportunities to try out with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons. Neither opportunity panned out, unfortunately. He signed a futures deal with the Edmonton Eskimoes in October 2019 for the upcoming 2020 season. That season never happened. Covid-19 canceled the 2020 CFL season, so Scott opted out of his contract.
“I was in the best shape of my life,” Scott recalled. “I still worked out six days a week and was going to be my best absolute self for when I got to put the pads on.”
The Spring League was able to get the gears moving for a fall season in 2020 – and Scott jumped back in. He was up against some bigger competition again, this time against former Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson, former Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett, and former Wisconsin/Florida State quarterback Alex Hornibrook.
When Bart Andrus had the first pick of the Spring League draft, he took Scott above all of them.
Scott didn’t disappoint, putting together the most prolific season the league had seen from a quarterback, again earning MVP honors and a league championship. “First of all, it was just a blessing to play football again,” Scott told Broadway Sports in a recent interview. “When you train as hard as I have, you’re just looking for an opportunity. COVID-19 swept in and left a lot of professional athletes in limbo. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play football in 2020.”
Coaches don’t understand how Scott hasn’t gotten his chance yet.
Andrus can’t fathom how Bryan Scott has yet to get a chance on the field. “I think it’s a matter of time before somebody wakes up and says, ‘You know, we better give this guy a chance.’”
Andrus insists that Scott’s best trait is the leadership he brings and plays best under pressure. In fact, Scott has played well under pressure his entire life. “My dad loved to put me out there when the games were at its highest stakes, and the teams needed me to step up,” Scott recalled. “And I’m really glad that he did. It made me gain confidence in those moments and shaped me to be a winning performer in all sports.”
Steve Fairchild, a former NFL offensive coordinator who’s been involved in the Spring League, can’t understand it either. “I have coached top quarterbacks,” Fairchild said, “and frankly, I’m baffled that Bryan is not playing in the NFL right now. There are many teams that he could be playing for and helping win right now!”
June Jones, an opposing coach in the 2020 season of The Spring League, admitted that Scott defied all expectations. “Bryan was the best quarterback in The Spring League in 2020,” Jones said, “and he delivers the ball on time, despite any pressure that he faces.”
What Scott brings to the football field
Bryan Scott is an improviser to the core but works well within structure. So many quarterbacks that I watch on tape are better at rolling out of the pocket and making something happen when the play breaks down than actually just performing the play. Scott isn’t like that. He has the ability to stick to the plan, stay in the pocket, and make smart throws. When the pocket breaks down, he flushes out and extends the play very well.
Arm talent is there. While Scott doesn’t have the strongest arm you will ever see, he’s effective with timing and throwing with incredible touch. His footwork is solid, too, always being able to reset his feet quickly before making the throw and ensuring he’s accurate. The release is tight and compact as well.
He’s not a great downfield runner but he’s effective as one. Give him space and he can gash defenses for big gains. His real ability is him improvability as the play breaks down. He can extend plays with relative ease, keeping incredible awareness of the play around him.
At the very least, I think that he’s a solid backup in the NFL. His talent assessment is pretty solid.
What’s next for Bryan Scott?
With four NFL try-outs under his belt, the question that remains to Scott is what’s next?
“I have two workouts coming up with NFL teams,” Scott told me. “I was going to sign with a team that I previously worked out with for two weeks before the draft. They had told me that they were going to sign me and then ended up trading in the draft to get a quarterback. That threw a little wrench in the process, but that’s alright. I completely trust in God’s plan and Him putting me in the right place, at the right time – to make an impact on a team with who I am as a leader, player, and person every day.”
Scott worked out for the Indianapolis Colts and two other NFL teams this year that he didn’t name while speaking with Sporting News. He insists that he’s not just a camp arm but a competitor and a workaholic. “I’m a guy who wants to go in there and compete every day and get the best out of my teammates and prove what I can do in the pre-games,” he told me. “I pride myself in getting the best out of others around me and truly helping them believe they can be great. My confidence in myself, in turn, gives them that feeling of belief, and we can accomplish great things together as a unit.”
He’s 25-years old, he turns 26 on August 17th. There’s still time to put together a successful NFL career. In the words of Bryan Scott, it’s trusting in God’s plan and Him putting Scott in the right place – at the right time.”