Q&A: Duke receiver Desmond Scott

Desmond Scott had a banner year for Duke after making the move from running back to receiver, finishing the season with 61 catches for 606 yards and two touchdowns. He also became the third player in ACC history to have over 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and on kickoffs.

I had a chance to catch up with Scott as Duke begins preparations for the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati. Here is a little of what he had to say.

You moved from running back to receiver just before the start of preseason practice. How did you make such a smooth transition?

DS: I felt like I did it before, why can’t I do it again? That’s how I approached the transition and I was ready for all the challenges that faced me, and I took it on.

How would you describe the transition once you were working with the receivers?

DS: It was fine. Jamison [Crowder] and Conner [Vernon] made it fine, telling me keep working, keep working. Catching the ball is the easiest thing to do. I just had to work on route running, reading defenses off coverages and everything else came with the territory. The coaches and Jamison and Conner made it all right, and also Sean [Renfree].

How long did it take for you to feel like you were a receiver?

DS: After the first game. We played Stanford second, and I had I think I had an 11-catch, 83-yard game so that made it pretty comfortable. And the rest of the season came, and I had good games here and there. I just grew into the position.

How does it feel to be only one of a handful of guys to hit the 1,000-yard trifecta?

DS: It’s a blessing, That was a goal I set for myself sophomore year and regarding life, that’s what I believe everyone should do. You should have goals and that was just one of my goals that I put out in front of me, and to accomplish it means the world to me. God has given me the ability to do, and I’m just using football as a platform to do other things such as teaching and reaching other kids. But those goals that you set out and attain mean the world to anybody who has goals.

What made you think as a sophomore you wanted to set that goal?

DS: It’s never been done in Duke history. I didn’t know about ACC history. and to have that accolade under my name means something to me. I wanted to come into this program and help turn it around and grabbing all the accolades I can while in the process of making the program better is any athlete’s dream. Why I set that goal, I don’t know, just to challenge myself, make myself better and making myself better obviously the team gets better as well.

What means more, having your name in the record books or being a part of the team that got Duke back to a bowl game?

DS: Being a part of the team that got Duke back to a bowl game. Don’t get me wrong, having my name in the record books is great, but before I committed to Duke University, that’s what Coach Cut and his staff and the 2009 recruits set out to do to change this program around. Just like (President) Obama can’t change the world in four years, you can’t change a football program in four years. It’s taken awhile. It’s been a work in progress since Coach Cut got here, and this 2009 class is the class that got over that hump.

Now that Duke got over the hump, is this program now going to be in a bowl game every year?

DS: That’s the plan. Like in life, once you get a taste of something and it’s good to you, I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to get that taste again. For those young guys, very athletic and talented young guys to get this taste at a young age, hopefully it puts it in their mind that they’re going to work hard and those guys that follow them will have to follow in their footsteps to obtain a bowl game again.

You mentioned teaching, is that something you hope to do?

DS: I actually teach kindergarten and fourth grade now at Global Scholars Academy, a charter school in Durham. The kids go to school until 6. I’m their teacher from 4 to 6 after their regular-day teacher leaves. Education is my minor so I do hope to be a high school teacher one day and hopefully a principal of a school.

Is this an internship or something you wanted to do?

DS: This is something I wanted to do. I started the summer for us, which is still the school year for them, because charter school goes year around.

How do you manage to do that between football and school?

DS: I feel as though life might throw you challenges as a man and if it’s something you really want to do, you have to put your mind to it and do it. That’s one thing Duke has taught me because I’ve had to balance the rigor of the Duke course and D-I athletics. Being able to balance those two has helped me be a better time manager.

What has the experience taught you about yourself?

DS: Definitely working with kindergarten is having patience. It’s not all about getting a lesson across to a kindergartner. It’s a whole lot of "Don't do this, don’t do that, sit down, take your feet off the chair." Working with fourth grade, they need a little bit more from you. Sometimes you have to be that brother role, father figure and teacher. Having to do all that is fun, and it makes the job enjoyable. To see a child grow is one of the most rewarding experiences ever, and to know you’re a part of the reason for the child to know how to divide or know how to multiply, it’s just a wonderful feeling.