2018 CFP CHAMPIONSHIP: Tide’s Scott reaches journey’s end with more than punting records
By Graham Dunn
ATLANTA - For the final time in his illustrious career, punter JK Scott will suit up for the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship against Georgia.
A four-year starter as Alabama’s punter, he added full-time kickoff duties this season as well as long field goal attempts. He has set many school kicking records and is listed at or near the top in nearly every punting category.
This year’s numbers have followed an incredible three years for Scott. He has punted 48 times in 2017 and is averaging 42.4 yards per kick. He has placed 52.1 percent of his kicks inside the 20 (25 of 48), which leads the nation. He also leads the country with a fair catch percentage of 52.1 (25 of 48). Scott is averaging 45.5 yards per punt in his career on 237 attempts, an average that ranks No. 1 all time at Alabama. He has placed 106 punts inside the 20 (44.7 percent) and booted 87 punts of 50 yards or more in 57 career games.
What might be the most impressive state – Scott has the fewest punts returned with three returns for a total of two yards.
It’s evident that from the day he arrived in Tuscaloosa, Scott has been one of the most prolific players in the country at his position. He has been a Ray Guy Award finalist every year including this one.
But the Denver native has been through what he called “wilderness” moments looking for answers to questions beyond the football field.
During Saturday’s national championship media event, Scott spent time with River Region Sports to discuss his maturation and what it has meant for his football career.
Q: This will be the last time you put on the Alabama uniform…
Scott: Yeah, but … I’m not suppressing my emotions. I’m excited about this being my last game. I’m not sad.
Q: When you first came to Alabama (from Colorado), there had to be some sort of a culture shock. Where are you now with that?
Scott: I didn’t like it here as much but as I grew, I really got to like it. Fun people. Good things here. It’s a great place to grow.
Q: What was it you didn’t like?
Scott: I don’t know if there was anything I really didn’t like. I think I was homesick. I missed my family.
Q: Once you got involved playing football, did everything fall into place?
Scott: Football wasn’t what did it. I had been playing all my life. It was really when I met Jesus.
It happened towards the end of my freshman year. I’ll tell you this… I’m so thankful I came to Alabama for that reason. My freshman year, I was an All-American and many thought it was an awesome life. But I was so lonely, so empty, partly due to being away from my family. It was then I met Jesus and began to learn my purpose.
When I started to learn who God says I am, it all changed.
Q: What was your attitude like before that, regarding life in general?
Scott: I always believed in God but when I went to Alabama I fell away from that belief, and I think it was just that I was alone. I had to decide on my own what I would believe. I was sad but all that changed.
Going away from home, you learn what you believe and find out who you are. You rely on family so much but there is a point where you go through a wilderness period and that’s a blessing.
All though the Bible, so many examples of going through those trials – Moses, Jesus – everyone went through it. It says Jesus learned from what he suffered. We grow in that same way. James says “rejoice in trials.” I am thankful for those trials, hard times and thankful for those times and being alone. It gave Jesus and opportunity to show me what I needed to see.
Q: You sound like you stay in the scriptures a lot…
Scott: Oh yeah… I’ll say this – before I went to the Lord, I didn’t have the heart for God. I didn’t have the joy for Jesus. I didn’t have a love for people. I loved people but it was more of a social obligation. I went to God and asked him to put that in me. I gave him a chance to transform my heart and when He did that, I grew in love.
Q: Who helped you find this?
Scott: A guy named Jeff Norris (from Atlanta). In this time when I felt alone, I was listening to him and you could tell he was experiencing what he was saying. I felt that power. He invited me to lunch one day and answered a lot of my questions. He explained the Gospel to me. Tanner Gann also helped my conversion.
Q: Have you been able to share your story?
Scott: I do in some churches and FCA but it’s more than telling the story.
Q: So, coming to Alabama was not just about becoming a punter. It changed your life…
Scott: Oh yeah. Coming to Alabama helped me find out what I was made for.
Q: Does that help you on the field?
Scott: Football used to be all that mattered to me, literally everything to me. It was my identity. If I had a bad practice, I would be in a bad mood. No longer. God has brought me through this process to where football is important but it’s not the most important thing. I still play football and enjoy it but I don’t have anxiety that I used to have.
Q: We’ve all seen the photo of Coach Saban giving you the hug at your graduation. I think it went viral. Can you give us the details on that picture?
Scott: Coach Saban has a warm heart. I guess… I don’t know what it was. I like to hug people. I hug him when no one else does. I guess he appreciates hugs.
Q: As for this game, championship… this is old hat, right?
Scott: I am really thankful to have this opportunity. You can’t ask for a more awesome game to play in the last one. It’s an SEC rivalry. You can see the passion with the fans.