Darrell Scott shocked many when he decided to leave the Colorado Buffaloes football program via text message, said Darian Hagan, CU running backs coach and the man who recruited Scott.
“I found out at probably around 1:30 [p.m.] and then I didn’t find out the way I thought I deserve to find out,” Hagan said. “Just the time that I devoted to him, I just think I deserve a little better way of letting me know that he wasn’t happy here.”
Head coach Dan Hawkins said in a news release Tuesday afternoon that the 20-year-old Scott is leaving for assorted personal reasons and assumed he would be transferring closer to his Ventura, Calif. home. After practice, Hawkins was quiet about the situation.
“I just don’t really have a comment about it,” Hawkins glumly said. “I mean I really don’t.”
The 6-feet, 1-inch, 220-pound Scott could not be reached for comment Tuesday night but he did tell multiple news sources he intends to rejoin his uncle Josh Smith at UCLA. Smith transferred from CU during the summer because he wanted to go to a school that will enable him to pursue a music career.
While the coaches found out about Scott’s departure through technology, some players discovered the bad news when they saw Scott’s locker.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Hansen said he heard about the news around 2 p.m.
“I walked into the locker room and then [Jason] Espinoza said, ‘Hey, did you hear what happened?’” Hansen said. “I’m like, ‘What happened?’ He goes, ‘Look over there.’ Darrell’s locker was totally empty—nothing in there.”
According to the Denver Post, Scott said he had been thinking about transferring “for a couple of months.” But according to players and coaches, they had no clue.
“I had no idea he was even thinking about it,” Hagan said. “I’ve asked him on different occasions was he OK, was he thinking about transferring because I heard people saying stuff? I told him to be a man about it. He looked me in the eye, he said, ‘Coach, I never thought about it.’ Today was a total surprise for me.”
Junior wide receiver Scotty McKnight said, “That was out of the blue.”
McKnight said he, Scott and Smith were close friends. McKnight described Scott as quiet, cool and a nice kid without a bad bone in his body. He didn’t think Scott was the kind of person to rush into such a decision.
“If I know Darrell, he probably didn’t just wake up in the morning and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to quit,’” McKnight said. “He probably talked to some people about it and maybe he felt this is the best thing for him.”
Scott was widely considered the nation’s top running back prospect in the 2008 recruiting class as he earned All-American honors from Parade, USA Today, Prep Star and Superprep as well as other accolades. However, Scott has yet to live up to the billing in his less than two stellar years in Boulder.
Last year, he rushed for 343 yards and one touchdown in 11 games. This season, Scott has carried the ball 23 times for 95 yards, 85 of which came against Toledo. He’s also CU’s leader in all-purpose yards with 694, but 564 of which came from kickoff returns. He entered the season in a four-way battle for the starting running back job with sophomores Rodney “Speedy” Stewart and Brian Lockridge, and junior Demetrius Sumler.
One reason why Scott didn’t shine was because of injuries. The sophomore running back had arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 22 to clean up some cartilage after injuring the knee against Toledo on Sept. 11. Not only has he been inactive since the operation, but he hasn’t been around teammates much when he was rehabbing the injured knee.
“With him getting surgery a couple of weeks ago, he wasn’t really around,” Hansen said. “He was rehabbing, so we didn’t really see him much. When I did see him, he was fine. He would talk to me; he didn’t seem like anything would happen, so it came as a total surprise to me.”
McKnight, however, still believes Scott has a couple of good years left and can possibly join an NFL roster someday.
“There’s flashes, when he was healthy, that you could see,” McKnight said. “There was a lot of talent there.”
Despite the abrupt departure, many wish Scott the best with whatever path he chooses to take next.
“When I see him tomorrow or whenever, I’ll say, ‘Hey man, it was a pleasure playing with you. Hopefully, it works out,’” Hansen said.
“I wish Darrell nothing but the best,” Hagan said. “He has to do what he has to do. Life goes on and when I wake up tomorrow, it will be a different day.”
But before Scott can leave to pursue his football career at another school, he will have to coordinate the paperwork through CU’s compliance office, which will also conduct an official exit interview.
One player feels he was going to exit either now, or later.
“I think if he didn’t transfer now, then probably after the season,” Stewart said. “No matter how a great season he would’ve had, he would’ve probably transferred.”
Contact CU Independent Co-Sports Editor Cheng Sio at Cheng.firstname.lastname@example.org.