What does UGA line coach Tray Scott look for on recruiting trail?

Tray Scott-UGA football
Tray Scott enjoyed a great first year coaching the defensive line at Georgia in 2017.

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The main topic of this edition is philosophy. We will examine what the Bulldogs target at certain positions in the weeks to come. Tray Scott’s focus for the defensive line seems like the ideal place to start. 

What is the most important position on the field? Most of the pundits always will say quarterback.

He touches the ball on every offensive play. His offense goes as he goes. Generally.

But the most important position on the field for me is the defensive line. That targets a collection of players rather than just one golden arm.

It is also the go-to answer about why the SEC brand of football stands out nationally. The size and speed the league’s top teams employ across their fronts are different when compared with the other Power 5 teams.

Tray Scott has a few certain qualities he is looking for while recruiting for Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

A team like Georgia does not need 10 quality quarterbacks to win the SEC. It needs at least eight to 10 quality defensive linemen in a rotation for a championship-level defense. Modern schemes involve a range of anywhere from two to five defensive linemen along the front for every snap.

Quarterbacks are precious. Yet the opinion here is that those three to four players on the front that affect the quarterback are even more vital. They can harass that signal caller in the pocket and out on the edges. A well-rounded front also can take away the security blanket of the run game for any QB.

DawgNation will begin to explore what the Bulldogs staff hopes to find on the recruiting trail at specific positions over the next few weeks. It just makes sense to start with the defensive line and coach Tray Scott.

Do the Bulldogs close with current 3-star defensive tackle commits Jordan Davis and Tramel Walthour to seal the nation’s top-ranked class in 2018? Davis took his official visit last week. Walthour is set to take his official visit this weekend.

Which traits does Scott have to see in a prospect to deem him fit to man the trenches in Athens? Let’s take a look at the recruiting philosophy for the defensive line room at UGA.

What does Tray Scott want to see in a Bulldogs player? 

The main thing for Scott is versatility.

“Someone who is flexible in terms of the things that he can do,” Scott said. “The first thing I am looking for is a guy that I think I can develop into a really good run defender but also has the ability to rush the passer.”

Tray Scott has two or three defensive tackles on the board left to close out the Class of 2018 for UGA. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia will line up in a lot of different fronts. That odd front would perhaps still be seen as Georgia’s base, but they have shown more looks than that.

If there’s one constant for all the guys that Scott has targeted so far, it is that big body type with the athleticism to cover a lot of short spaces quickly.

“I feel like if we can find that, then from that point on, it is up to me to kind of help them develop into a premium run defender and then being that pass rush guy as well. That’s really one of the big things in terms of athleticism, but there’s also a certain mentality.

“I’m looking for a guy with a growth mindset. That’s a guy who is ready to grind. He’s ready to challenge his courage every day. It is tough because some guys don’t realize this is a really physical game and you have to be gritty and you have the ability to be very tough and very hard through all of these situations.”

Scott has a personal touch on the recruiting trail. He’s going to dig in for the right information. His job depends on figuring out whether the players he has very high on his board based on the physical traits also possess that “growth” mindset.

“You try to get a lot of those questions answered when you are recruiting kids and you get the chance to know their families,” he said.

What would be a good example of that? Well, it seems that 4-star junior college DT signee Devonte Wyatt already fits that prototype.

What Tray Scott already likes about Devonte Wyatt

Wyatt’s story already has endeared him to a lot of UGA fans. He was that guy in the Air Force 1 shoes who thought he could run with the track team. He was right.

Devonte Wyatt is enrolled at Georgia. His position coach, Tray Scott, sounds positive about Wyatt’s potential to play early in 2018. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

That 300-pounder flashed the sort of athleticism that allowed him to shine at running back for Towers High in Decatur.

Yet Wyatt was not able to qualify to attend UGA last fall. He spent the season playing junior college ball instead of playing for an SEC title and in the Rose Bowl.

It was a growth moment for Wyatt, the only true defensive tackle prospect the Bulldogs signed in 2017.

He’s on campus now and enrolled in classes. Can he really run a 4.7 in the 40? Scott thinks so.

“Golly!” Scott exclaimed. “There isn’t any doubt.”

That athleticism is evident. He’s looking forward to putting that chess piece out on the board for Georgia.

“All you do there is you don’t mess it up,” Scott said. “The way you don’t mess it up is to make sure you address what needs to be addressed. Because he’s coming with tremendous athleticism and strength. Helping him with his technique is what we are hyper-focused on.”

They’ve already established an early grind.

“When he came in, one of the big main events for him was, ‘Coach I want to make sure I get better with using my hands and I want to do this’ and he wants to get very good at that so fast. For us, we have to make sure he knows that it is going to be a process but also let him know that we are going to get you there.

“We are just driving home the technique. He is going to be a great player for us.”

Can Wyatt jump right into the rotation next year? Or will there be a learning curve?

“There is really no doubt about it,” Scott said. “The only reason I say that is because Devonte has the will to do it and to push through anything in his way no matter what it is. That’s what makes it a lot easier for a guy like him. He’ll be able to help us tremendously next year.”

Is there a profile that Tray Scott seeks for UGA?

I hate it when recruits are labeled. Body types seem to be the norm, but there’s a reality to it. No SEC team is going to stack up 255-pound high school kids to play that  “O” or a “3” technique anymore.

Those sort of bodies are already undersized for big-time high school football in Georgia.

“You try to find a guy who is at least close to what you are looking for physically,” Scott said. “Sometimes you don’t want to manufacture big guys. Sometimes you don’t want to have to get a guy that you have to put so much weight on to play the position. Maybe there’s a reason why that guy hasn’t gained that weight.”

Tray Scott came to UGA last year after coaching stops at Ole Miss and North Carolina, among others. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

Scott ideally would like to find those prospects who already have the frame or the ability to grow. It would be easier to find a 295-pounder in high school who can move rather than take that 270-pounder with great film and then pack on 25 more pounds of armor to get him ready for the SEC.

It would be easy if everyone on the board hit 6-foot-5 on the growth chart and then also blazed a great short shuttle at 315 pounds.

“You can’t get that,” Scott said. “You have to do a really good job of evaluating and getting guys on campus to work out. Or you go see them during the spring in evaluation time and really go see the guys move around. You have a low-end spectrum you look for and then there is that perfect NFL prototype you have in your mind. But at the end of the day, there are a lot of those guys who are true NFL prototypes that don’t make it into the NFL.

The reason they don’t make it is they don’t use that growth mindset to challenge their courage every day. That’s why Scott makes finding that mindest a priority for his defensive line room.

“Look at John Randle,” he said. “He’s one of my favorite defensive linemen ever. In the whole world. He was a small, undersized guy but you couldn’t find a gauge to measure his grit and his toughness. That guy played in the NFL for a long time.”

How Tray Scott recruits on the trail for Georgia

Scott cares about the relationships he builds with the young men he recruits.

“I hope they say I am really genuine and really transparent and really straight to the point,” Scott said. “Because I try not to do the recruiting sales pitches. I try to be who I am. That way if I get that young man and he comes on campus then he can just say, ‘That’s Tray. That’s Tray Scott and the coach Scott I have always known.'”

There’s really just not enough opportunity to really get to know these players on the recruiting trail. So his method is to just cut to the chase.

“You don’t have enough time to recruit a kid,” Scott said. “Even if you have been recruiting him for a year and a half. There are still just so many things that you are not going to know about him and he’s not going to know about you. So the way we try to approach is to be totally authentic. It is ‘here’s how I am’ and ‘here’s how I coach’ and ‘here is how things will be for you here,’ and I think that’s a little bit better than the recruiting pitches out there. Then you don’t have to de-recruit that guy as much.”


Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-America LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.

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