ATHENS — Tray Scott was only at Ole Miss for six weeks, but one of his first actions was to go visit a junior college defensive lineman, who was so impressed by Scott that he committed within days.
The player, in one of those many ironies of recruiting, was Larrell Murchison, who would eventually switch (silently) his commitment to Georgia, only to end up at N.C. State. Then on Wednesday, upon hearing the news that Scott was headed to Georgia, all Murchison could say was how lucky the Bulldogs were.
“They’re definitely getting a good one,” Murchison said. “Just being recruited by him the last month, I could tell what kind of person he was. Definitely a great dude to work with.”
Scott, only in his early 30s and a graduate of a small Arkansas university, is a relative unknown at Georgia, and his hire came out of the blue. He’s replacing one of the most famous defensive linemen in SEC history, Tracy Rocker, who has had a long career as a defensive line coach.
Just getting started
Scott is only starting his career, and this will only be his third year at the major college level. He was at North Carolina from 2015-16, where he gained a reputation as a good teacher who could relate well to his players, given his age.
“To the defensive line, he’s brought that player’s coach mentality,” North Carolina then-sophomore defensive end Dajaun Drennon told The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper in 2015. “He’s our friend off the field, laughs with us, jokes with us and everything. But on the field, he has that switch where he can be the serious guy. He’ll get on us, but he still loves us at the end of the day.”
According to a story in last year’s News & Observer, Scott popularized Mrs. Freshley’s Honey Buns in the UNC coaching office. He found them in a vending machine during a recruiting trip, brought them back, and they became a hit with the rest of the staff.
There’s a YouTube video that North Carolina put up last year with Scott mic’d up during practice. He comes off as very precise and technical, without yelling much, but constantly talking. He finishes one tutorial by fist-bumping a player.
“All you’re doing is telling ’em a lie — and then going the other way,” Scott tells his linemen about a one-on-one pass rush technique.
At another point he tells a much taller player to approach a technique “like you’re 5-11,” which is closer to Scott’s own height.
Of course that’s an edited version that the school put out. But his work on the field evidently was good enough for Ole Miss to hire him last month. The Rebels were already familiar with Scott, who was a graduate assistant with the defensive line before going to UT-Martin, an FCS school, where he coached the defensive line for two years.
Freeze released a somewhat terse statement Wednesday upon Scott’s departure for Georgia. But when he hired Scott away from North Carolina six weeks ago, Freeze praised Scott, particularly his recruiting ability.
‘We had a star on our staff’
“We knew we had a star on our staff when Tray was with us as a graduate assistant, and we are thrilled to welcome him back,” Freeze said in a statement. “With the experience he has gained as a coach and recruiter since his first stint here, Tray will bring great energy and leadership to our defensive line and allow us to continue our success at that position.”
Murchison was somebody that Scott had pinpointed when he was at North Carolina, just going off of film. At the time he was a rather lightly-recruited defensive tackle at Louisburg (N.C.) junior college. Upon his hiring at Ole Miss, Scott jumped on Murchison, who quickly committed, only to switch to Rocker and Georgia the Thursday before signing day. The next week, Georgia pulled the offer because of a numbers crunch, by which time Ole Miss had moved on, and Murchison ended up at N.C. State.
When Scott ended up at Georgia, Murchison could only marvel.
“That’s really weird,” Murchison said. “That would’ve been crazy, if Georgia had had a little more roster room, scholarship money-wise, that really would’ve been crazy to get to work with him at Georgia.”
He thinks the defensive linemen that will work with him will like it. To a point.
“They’re going to work, I know that,” Murchison said, chuckling.