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Sunday, February 24, 2013
Scott follows dream with PSU commitment

By Josh Moyer

Nick Scott couldn't sleep the night before his junior day visit.

The athlete out of Fairfax (Va.) held a Penn State offer since October -- he wanted to commit for months -- so he knew that Saturday could be the day he became a Nittany Lion. He tossed and turned Friday night as his mind raced at the prospect of pulling a blue jersey over his shoulder pads.

He thought about that moment, dreamed about that moment, before he could ride a bicycle. He grew up in Lancaster, Pa., on the corner of a quiet street where he'd climb trees and toss footballs with the neighborhood kids, Mickey and James. He'd jog over to their homes on Saturday afternoons to watch the Penn State games and yell at their televisions. He moved to Brookline, Mass., when he was 11 -- but that Penn State interest never waned.

Ask Scott when he realized Saturday he would commit, and he excitedly rattles off a list. Meeting the coaches definitely did it. No, no -- the weight room. Actually, probably watching players work out. Maybe it was talking to Bill O'Brien. THON clinched it, probably. Scratch that -- the academics. Asking a kid when he first realized blue was his favorite color might yield an easier response.

The tailback/safety gathered himself and tried again once the question was repeated: When did you first realize Saturday you were going to commit?

"Just arriving really," he said.

You mean on campus or in the football building?

"Just in Pennsylvania, really. I mean, it's like when I entered Pennsylvania, it's like I got hit with a wave of home. And then, driving on campus, the feeling of it -- I just felt so comfortable. I felt at home. I didn't feel nervous talking to the coaches or anything. I just knew."

Scott's earliest football memory, just as he started tossing those footballs, came when his parents ushered him and his brothers upstairs. He can't even remember if it was for a Super Bowl or a big college game, he just remembers walking back downstairs with bowls of tortilla chips and an array of other snacks awaiting him.

He can't even recall how old he was, but he can clearly remember the Penn State jerseys that hung by that snack table. He remembers thinking how cool they looked, how he wanted to wear one of those. In many ways, his childhood was defined by PSU, by those jerseys. Now, two years from now, he'll be trying one on.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete knew Penn State was the right school -- but, before Saturday, he had never before set foot on campus. His parents, PSU fans themselves, urged him to at least wait to commit until visiting. They wanted to make sure his future hopes aligned with his boyhood dreams. That the kid who constantly created his own player on Xbox to play under Joe Paterno would want to play under O'Brien on the real grass at the real Beaver Stadium.

Turns out he did. And he said he'll never forget his first glimpse of that field. On Saturday, a member of the staff showed him around that giant erector set of a stadium and then accompanied him inside.

He slowly walked toward midfield and planted his feet on the 50-yard line. Scott said he turned, slowly, in a circle and tried to savor every moment. He envisioned 110,000 fans -- all wearing white -- yelling deafening chants and waving blue-and-white pom poms.

"It gave me goosebumps," he said. "There were so many moments where I was like Penn State's the right place for me, and that was one. The more I thought about it, the more those feelings became more and more."

His day ended by hugging O'Brien. He spoke privately with the dimple-chinned coach, explaining how he grew up a fan and loved the school -- "telling him basically what I told you" -- and O'Brien's serious tone softened. They shook hands, Scott gave him a quick embrace, and he was then officially a Nittany Lion.

He said he's not even sure what position he'll play. PSU's staff is still debating between tailback and defensive back. But Scott said he doesn't care -- just as long as he's playing at PSU.

"Not everyone can say they got an offer from the school they loved ever since they could hold a football," Scott said. "I'm just really excited now."