Indiana’s running backs enjoyed a unique opportunity this week, hopping on a Zoom call with former Hoosier and current Miami Dolphin Jordan Howard.
Stevie Scott, Sampson James and David Ellis each peppered Howard with questions about his life, his time in Bloomington and some of his favorite moments from his lone season in an IU uniform. Scott also wanted to know about life in the NFL and how Howard prepared mentally for the jump to football’s highest level.
Because at some point in the next couple of years, Scott wants to get there, too.
“I definitely needed that talk,” Scott said. “I loved the talk we had. He was really dropping jewels on me and just letting me know how the league is.”
An All-Big Ten performer in each of his first two seasons at Indiana, the rising junior is hopeful he can follow Howard’s path. Scott will enter next season needing merely 18 yards to become the 14th Hoosier to surpass the 2,000-yard mark for his career. He’s already eighth in program history with 20 rushing touchdowns, and he’s tied for 10th with nine 100-yard games.
It’s an impressive resume, especially for a player only two years into his college career. Scott celebrated his 20th birthday on Wednesday, and instead of reflecting on all that he’s accomplished so far, his eyes were fixed firmly on the future.
In the short term, he wants to play in a bowl game before his next birthday. Scott missed IU’s January trip to the Gator Bowl after suffering a season-ending injury on Nov. 23 against Michigan and said sitting out Indiana’s postseason appearance has motivated him to help the Hoosiers get back there in 2020.
He’s also trying to learn from the independence the pandemic has brought to his schedule. IU running backs coach Mike Hart, himself a former NFL player, has been emphasizing that this is what life is like in the league. Not only are players away from the training facility for large chunks of the offseason, there aren’t coaches hovering over you to make sure the work is getting done. It’s a lesson in accountability, one that Hart hopes his best pupils take to heart.
“If you want to play in the NFL, this is really an NFL schedule,” Hart said. “There are certain times of the year you’re not going to be around the coaches. You’re not going to have mandatory workouts from this time to this time. As you grow and as you learn, the guys who last and the guys who are great players, the guys that do it on their own, the guys that take care of their bodies, the guys making the right decisions on and off the field with what they’re eating and putting into their bodies, those are the guys that last in the league. This is just a trial for them.”
That’s not lost on Scott, who is splitting his time between individual workouts and workouts with his father. He’s prioritizing core exercises to build strength and add power, all while staying focused on where he wants to go.
“It’s definitely kind of a challenge,” Scott said, “but like Coach Hart said, this is really preparing us for the NFL.”