Tyler Scott arrived at Northwestern in 2009 full of eagerness and anticipation. His first day with the football team was Aug. 8. Two days later, he was told he needed shoulder surgery. Talk about a buzz kill.
He spent the 2009 season rehabbing the shoulder, not even practicing with the Wildcats. When he was finally cleared to get back to some workouts after the bowl game that year, he held nothing back.
"I was like, 'This is my time to actually prove to people that I'm here for a reason,'" he said. "Nobody knew what I could do. Nobody even knew who I was."
Scott figured the best way to make a name for himself was in the weight room. So he attacked it as hard as he could, trying to match the team's seniors in the different lifting exercises. He showed up for every optional workout and even when no one else was around. He would throw 10 more pounds on the bar until he couldn't lift any more.
"I put all my power into it," he said.
That dedication has helped Scott become one of the Wildcats' top performers in strength training. Check out his numbers from testing in early 2010 compared to early 2011: his bench press went from 265 to 400 pounds, his hang clean improved from 220 to 310 and his squat went from 415 to 550.
"During the 2010 offseason, Tyler's work ethic was unmatched," said Jay Hooten, Northwestern's assistant strength coach.
That hard work allowed Scott to get on the field last season as a redshirt freshman defensive end. He played in all 13 games as a reserve and had 12 total tackles. The former high school linebacker credits his weight room preparation for letting him hold his own in the Big Ten last season.
"If I were still benching 265 pounds, I think I would have been thrown around a little more," he said. "It would have been interesting."
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Scott had a nice spring and could push for even more playing time, perhaps as a starter, on Northwestern's defensive front this season. Hooten says he "could become a force in the Big Ten." Scott just plans on keeping his same work ethic, remembering back to the dismal times when he was hurt as a freshman.
"That really opened my eyes," he said. "I told myself then, 'I don't want to miss this much football ever again. And when I do play, I'll be doing it as hard as I can for as long as I can.'"