I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the most underrated safety prospects in this year’s draft, Daniel Scott. In addition to both being St. Francis alums (Go Knights!) We spoke about the ever-evolving NFL defense, who some of his favorite safeties are to watch, what mindset it takes to be a pro athlete and how he’s prepping for the draft and Senior Bowl.
So let’s start off where it all started as you can see what made you want to play football? And then most importantly, stick with it?
I mean, sports has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve always played any type of sports, since I was young started playing football, about the fifth grade tackle football will say I played flag probably until I could, when I started walking, honestly, started playing tackle just kind of fell in love with the game, Dad play a little bit. And like Deewan WA, when he was growing up, brother played high school football at St. Francis as well. So I just kind of grew around it. And, you know, just made sense for me. And, you know, I learned a lot of values through it, you know, deal with adversity, every single practice, you know, getting tackled, or having a talk with someone. So, you know, translating that into my life has been, you know, a huge part of who I am today.
You had offers from Fresno State and Hawaii, what made you choose Cal?
I mean, I got the offer really late. So I was kind of just gonna go mountain west, probably I got the offer late and, you know, made a visit there. And, you know, obviously going to St. Francis, like academics was a priority, and huge and my family, my mom always instilled, you know, trying to get the best education possible and all that it just made the most sense, it was not only one of the best academic institutions, but it was of the highest caliber football, you know, playing in the Pac 12 and division one.
And then you mentioned academics, tell me a little bit more about what it was like being a student athlete.
I mean, it was a challenge, definitely, especially going to Berkeley, it’s not an easy task to do, to go to, not only to go to school there and get a degree from there, with, you know, any type of challenging courses you may take, but you know, being an athlete as well and devoting so much time into that. But at the same time, it helps you, you know, become a better person grow as a person, and get you prepped for what you’re going to deal with in life, you know, eventually once you get a job, so yeah, I mean, it was tough, but it was fun at the same time, like going to a big school, you know, walking, you know, running into Memorial Stadium and like having all this fans cheer for you is like, any, you know, any feeling similar was so yeah, I enjoyed all my time they work.
What game should I and the audience watch to see what kind of player you are?
I mean, this year, I think I’ve probably played the best thing that was most memorable was the big game against Stanford, keeping an axe again, and winning it in Memorial with all of our fans, there was probably one of the best games to be a part of, go down in the locker room, have the x, you know, chant our fight song. And you know, it’s just good to hear.
That sounds awesome. And then, in terms of coverages, do you like to play a little bit more deep? Or do you like going down on the box for rent support more?
I mean, I think that’s kind of hard. I would, I mean, you kind of said it perfectly, if I had to pick any type of coverage that I’d play would probably be like middle post safety, or like, you know, one high safety, or, you know, kind of being in the box and fit in on a run fit or coming down. And being like a zone defender, whether it’s like you’re playing the hook or pushing out to the flat and just kind of reading the quarterback and reacting.
to see that.
Yeah, speaking of one, high safety, I think that’s kind of where you played primarily in college. But now looking to the NFL, the NFL plays a lot of two high shell you know to, take away that deep pass and leave the quarterback to make the read underneath. How do you feel that the league is kind of going to adapt further as moves on?
Yeah, I mean, I definitely think as the NFL has evolved over time, it’s definitely turned into more of a pass happy game. You know, offense do a great job game planning defense to great job game planning. You know, you find new schemes or concepts from teams every week. You know, but you know, the funny term is it’s a copycat league so you know, you kind of find the same concepts stacked upon you most of the time so you know, having some sort of self self study and making sure you know, what you’ve been burned on or had some explosive plays against as is always going to be good but yeah, I mean, I think in general you know, wherever I play in the NFL, I hope to show my talents as best I can two highs also fun you know, just being being anywhere on the defense where I can beat the quarterback and you know, just obviously read his eyes and just kind of make the decision before someone else is you know, what I look for and what I enjoy and what I thrive in so whether I’m at two high when I you know dropping out his own playing man, you know, I look forward to.
Yeah, and then just looking at your pure stats I noticed interception totals, three back to back years what’s kind of clicked for you is it more of the experience is it more just learning more about the game is it was watching the film? What’s kind of gone well the past few years?
I mean, I think it’s kind of been all of it the time the effort you know, the game planning the film watching the self study the talking with your position coaches, you know, buttoning up techniques or you know, minuses that you had from previous Games are a year before. But yeah, it’s just kind of all that culminating until you know, pot or, you know, a meal as you could look at it and it’s just coming out the microwave like it’s just kind of perfect for me. So yeah.
Yeah. Speaking of that, who’s the toughest like quarterback or just general offense that you’ve had to defend your last six or so years?
I mean, obviously, playing Caleb Williams this year. You know, he’s very talented, though. Bo Nix at Oregon was good. Michael Penix was good at Washington. I mean, the PAC 12 was kind of stacked this year. I’m not gonna lie with quarterbacks.
I think I’d probably say that, but I think this year out of all the I probably played safety has been competitive. This is probably one of the better years I mean, I can’t say anything that for the Covid year like maybe you’ve only had four games.
Yeah, and then in terms of like mobile quarterbacks? Does that kind of make you want to creep up a little more as a safety you know, guys rolling out of a pocket trying to run for it? What does that do when you’re on defense and trying to like plan against them?
I mean, it depends on what you know, my coverage or assignment or technique is whether you know, I’m going underneath as a defender and I need to pull the trigger, obviously I’m going to be the one high safety I’m not going to go chase him until he’s over the line of scrimmage. But yeah, I mean, that just brings another element to an offense that you have to Game Plan for and prepare for. You know, I think mobile quarterbacks bring another aspect and ability to the game that you know, raises them up so you should always stay on your toes you know, where you could have a pump fake you could have him you know, escaping the pocket well but never break in you know, the line of scrimmage so he’s a different type of playmaker, things like that.
Who are some of the guys that you’re watching on tape right now whether that be in the pros, whether it be other college games?
Right I mean, I just love watching ball in general you know, right now we’re in the playoffs obviously when I watched the tape I like watching Justin Simmons Quandre Diggs and Justin Jefferson I watched Vikings a lot with with with Harrison Smith and then my teammate Cam Bynum you know, like watching the Chargers being at home. So having Derwin James and their safeties play to wrap the other guys the Rams I’ve been watching the 14 hours obviously lobbying in the day so you know, fungus had a great year so but I watched a lot of his tape and you know what type of playmaker he is. Yeah, just you know, pick as many people as you can, you know, obviously in the league so there have the ability and the talent and just kind of learn where you can and you know, use some of their skills.
Yeah, speaking of just like popular safeties, who would you say right now is your safety Mount Rushmore like top four it’s a hard one and I just mentioned like a ton of good safety’s
Top four me I gotta put like one of them obviously, like a Troy Polamalu. He’s just like a dog. Second, I mean, like, I would probably when I was younger, I used to watch a lot more film of like Eric Weddle. I honestly put him up there because I used to like mentor like he would kind of be like my mentor, or who I’ve you know, watched the most film on so those are like two older guys and I’ll pick like two new guys not new guys, but like maybe current
who I pick I’m not gonna lie, I think who found is gonna be one of the best safeties in the league for some time, so I’m gonna I’m gonna have to play him
let me think I’ll probably put quandra to I’m not gonna lie. That’s my fourth.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
Well, I was like a basketball fan, I mean, football and basketball, but like, I always idolized Kobe and watched him took a lot of his, like, mentality, work ethic and all that and tried to translate that into my own game. You know, I looked up to like my brother a lot. My older brother went to St. Francis, you know, obviously, he didn’t play collegiate sports, but you know, just the way he, you know, carried on, you know, into college and getting his doctorate in physical therapy and things like that just motivated me. And then, like I said, obviously, like, safety specific, like Eric Weddle was who I looked at a lot. I watched a lot of Troy Polamalu, Brian Dawkins, Ed, read, you know, all those guys.
Yeah, and then terms of quarterbacks, any quarterback in the league right now? Who would you want to pick off the most?
I mean, honestly, any of them. I don’t think I could like one of them. I mean, obviously, who like, you know, picking off? Patrick mahomes, or Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady is one of those things that you’d like, say for the rest of your life to like, your grandkids and stuff? So that would be you know, like an easy answer.
But yeah, I mean, any pic of mine, I would be happy. would be my memory. That’s for sure.
And then what were some of the ways you’re prepping pre draft?
I mean, it’s just going through the typical process, you know, training for the combine and Senior Bowl in the pro day. Yeah, I mean, it just be work and lifting and position work and board talk and, you know, just having a mentor sock to you and just kind of learning the whole process and, you know, just fully diving into, you know, being a pro, I guess, without the student that part.
And then what are some of the things that you’re still trying to work on or improve right now is it speed cutting a little bit better?
Yeah, I mean, for me, I mean, now we’re in the offseason, it’s, you know, buttoning up imperfections, I don’t have my technique, you know, whether that’s, you know, my play on foot, my drive foot, you know, just being as efficient as efficient as possible, excuse me, you know, obviously, speed with speed kills in the game. So, you know, I wasn’t born Usain Bolt, so always having to work that has been a priority and a premium of mine. You know, continue to have loose hips, you know, fast feet. You know, good press coverage, good man coverage, good zone coverage, and the whole nine, there’s not probably one thing I could focus on, not focus on.
I mean, currently, you know, just trying to talk to as many pros or people who have played this game. And, you know, learn from them, ask them questions, you know, obviously, I have my own board, talking board, you know, film study with, you know, my mentors and guys I’m training with so you know, just going over my coverages and things, a cow that we did, and then talking about my film, you know, so doing a little bit of self study, and then also kind of learning other positions or, you know, sitting on other meetings, whether that’s an alignment, thinking about understanding how alignment think, or, you know, going into a quarterback meeting or talking to some quarterbacks is to kind of get an idea of, you know, how their minds think.
And you mentioned the Senior Bowl, that’s pretty big. And I don’t think many people were that aware of your talent. So you were invited to the Senior Bowl, and what does that mean for you to even get an invite to the Senior Bowl?
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a huge honor. First and foremost, thankful for, you know, having the abilities to you know, be nominated and qualified to go to this event. But it’s just another game obviously, but at the same time, you know, the value in it and you know, what it carries for, you know, it’s just a job it’s a big job interview, right. So, you know, obviously you prep as much as you can for it. But you try to play loose and have fun and, you know, meet the guys around you that you’ve never met before on other teams and you know, go to us, I’ve never been to Alabama, so going to the state I’ve never been And but yeah, you know, you just continue to, you know, carry that chip on my shoulder that I’ve kind of had my whole life. And, you know, I’m not gonna be the guy with all the cameras around me, that’s fine. You know, I like being the quiet guy and the sleeper and looked over. So I’m just excited to perform on the on the highest level.
Yeah. And then have you looked at some of the raw session just coming in kind of like, eyeing the competition? Almost. Yeah,
I mean, obviously, you know, as you get closer, you start looking at the roster and seeing certain receivers and seeing if you can get some film on them and watching some of their releases, you know, what their tendencies are. The same with the quarterbacks and sometimes the running backs to seeing, obviously, their tendencies, what they like to do, you know, like, what little things you could study that can kind of help you make a decision or get a read on them or faster.
And then we’re just generally speaking what are you hoping to gain from that whole experience? That’s a lot right?
I mean, a little bit of everything, kind of, again, learn how the process goes, you know, me being professional being in the NFL. But then at the same time, like just proving myself and proving to everyone else that like I’m here to stay in this league a long time, and I can play with everyone at the eyes level on the highest caliber. So that’s kind of just been my mindset. But at the same time, just being a sponge, like that’s kind of how I carried myself all throughout my life, like just absorbing all information I kept from people around me whether that’s the position coaches aren’t being taught from the, you know, just the general coaches that are there the speakers that come or you know, people that you sit next to at the dinner table, like just learning as much as you can.
Yeah, and you mentioned just like, you’re coming from everywhere. What is it like being part of a locker room where everyone’s coming from different points of view, everyone’s come from different places? How does that kind of contribute to the overall experience of playing football?
Right? I mean, I think that’s just kind of like you play it as well, you know, having that span across America, even internationally, like you get to meet unique people. And it’s just another way to like network with people, honestly. And, you know, creating your circle and adding people that, you know, could be your lifelong friends. You never know, I can be in my groups and in this locker room at the Senior Bowl, but you know, you just get to meet different people and see how other cultures and communities and individuals interact with each other.
In terms of training, there’s gotta be some days where you’re just like, oh, man, I just don’t want to go train today, I’m tired, whatever, which is what keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
I don’t know. I mean, honestly, I’ve been pretty. I’ve been pretty good. Like, since I’ve been starting training here. And in the new year, it’s just kind of like that. I don’t know, some people have different types of motivations. But like, for me, I just like, Go mode all the time. I don’t know. Like, when I get home, I like to rest and you know, lay on my bed and lay on the couch or watching TV or you know, stretch or something. But when I’m there, it’s just, it’s just going on. So I don’t know, I like listening to music. Before I get there while we know left. But it’s also just knowing that you got a couple more months here until you find out if like your dream is kind of getting bet. So kind of having that last little push to work as hard as you can and all that. You know, it’s just kind of a motivating factor.
Yeah, and then in terms of like, decompressing What do you do after a long practice? Are you like when the guy in the ice bath? Do you do like, work with athletic training staff? How do you decompress?
Yeah, I mean, after I mean, during the season, it can I like I like to contrast so that’d be like, cool to I’d obviously watch some film in there, like with my iPad. I’m a music guy. So you know, say I had a more frustrating practice or my mind was racing on the more after practice, I might put some more calming music on or like some jazz or something, just to kind of like recenter me, you know, I like to meditate some times. You know, if I need to step away from football, like obviously I like to rest or you know, just go outside and see nature and things like that just to, again, re energize yourself and, you know, prepare yourself as best as possible to, you know, continue to grow in football.
Yeah. And then in terms of hobbies, outside of football, what are some of those?
I mean, I like food, so I’ll go you know, try to find some nice restaurant, not nice restaurants for like some nice food, some home or walls, you know, in any city that I’m in. Like I said, I like to listen to music a lot. So, whether I’m in the car, you know, walking down the street To read or doing anything, you know, just having some music around is always good. Don’t really play many video games, but I’ll play some video games like some teammates or anyone I’m training with which is cool. Play like some FIFA or Madden like harass but you know, I love football I don’t know I like to watch sports to NBA games. NFL games, obviously.
Yeah, for sure. And then I know you mentioned like, just teams sucking. When you’re in losing kind of atmosphere, how do you keep that mindset to just go you know, 1-0 every week.
You just kind of like to have to turn the page, you know, obviously, you got to peel the band aid off sometimes and watch your your tough film on Sunday and Monday, but you have to move on and take the next step and move on to the next play. You know, it’s the same thing in the middle of the game, if you start focusing on your mess up from the previous player, and you might give up a touchdown or another big play right after so just not trying to stack up your mistakes and just trying to grow from it and make it a learning lesson that you can apply going forward.
And then finish it off today. What is something you’ve learned from playing football, whether that be from you know, a coach, teammate, anybody that you can apply off the field in your everyday life.
I mean, it kind of ties into the last answer I had, but you know, you’re gonna be you’re gonna deal with adversity, you’re gonna deal with knock downs, you’re gonna deal with given up a touchdown in life, you know, and it’s going to be like, how do you respond to those things? And how do you become, you know, the best version of yourself and at the same time, like, competitiveness, like, whether you apply that to you know, you eaten faster than your sibling or I know that’s weird or like, you know, you walk in across the street more faster than someone else or you know, you turn it in the test fashion someone else are you getting the better grade and someone else like just having that, like, competitiveness kind of helps you drive and motivate yourself to work hard throughout your life.