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Kenneth Scott knows Austin Lee and Taylor Loomis. He's very familiar with Nick Carman and Braden Pelly. He can provide insights into Griffin Kemp and A.J. Semeatu.
Entering his NCAA-approved sixth year in the University of Utah football program, due to two season-ending injuries, Scott is the Utes' star receiver, co-captain, big brother, cross-cultural diplomat, welcoming committee and confidant. His outsized personality fits that big job description, explaining how he could have become acquainted at some point with all 104 teammates on the Utes' camp roster in August.
That list includes other African-American athletes, along with returned LDS missionaries, Polynesians, non-scholarship players, scout-team members and several teammates unlikely to be publicized this season, other than in this story. Just for fun, I handed Scott the camp roster asked him to say something about selected players. Oh, no. He went through the entire list, from defensive back Philip Afia to receiver Kenric Young never glancing up from the paper, tracing the names with his index finger and pausing only to chuckle occasionally, while telling a brief story.
Scott will have to make some spectacular plays on the field this season to top that performance, demonstrating how "he's more interested in being a great teammate than anything else, which is good," said Ute coach Kyle Whittingham.
As a younger Ute, Scott was influenced along those lines by former receiver Luke Matthews."If they're going to be your teammates and you say that it's a brotherhood, I feel like you need to get to know everybody, just to get a connection with each other," Scott said.
That's partly why Whittingham considers Scott the team's "leader of the leaders" in the recent tradition of Tony Bergstrom, Trevor Reilly and Nate Orchard.
Delivering distinctive information about 104 players is difficult. An inordinate number of the Utes apparently are "funny" or "cool" or both. Yet Scott clearly puts some him effort into knowing his teammates. As an example, he pronounces Polynesian names perfectly, with proper syllables accented.
Nicknames help him. Offensive tackle J.J. Dielman is the "Cowboy." Another lineman, Nick Nowakowski, is the "Michelin Man." Receiver Jameson Field is "White Chocolate." Running back Andrew Fletcher is the "Lumberjack."
And here we go, hitting the highlights:
Andrew Albers, offensive tackle: "Big, country guy. You don't want to get him mad. "
Brian Allen, cornerback: "One of the goofiest players on our team. We might be cousins. He's also from Texas, and there are Allens in my family as well."
Cody Barton, linebacker: "Probably the scarier out of the two Bartons."
Jackson Barton, offensive tackle: "Not a softy, but softer than Cody."
Nick Carman, offensive lineman: "He was adopted into a white family, which makes him more diverse."
Britain Covey, receiver: "I even went to his house, and was mesmerized by how big it is."
Christian Drews, linebacker: "I hope he's rewarded with a scholarship."
Walk-ons obviously are not outside of Scott's influence. "It doesn't matter who you are," Drews said. "He really does take the time to go through each locker-room section and talk to each guy. That really helps with team chemistry and bonding, which is what makes us so good."
Back to the roster:
Jameson Field, receiver. "White Chocolate. He's a white boy, but he acts black. He is funny."
Jon Halliday, kicker: "His wife went to BYU."
Chase Hansen, quarterback: "I call him 'the god,' because that who he is in Utah."
Casey Hughes, defensive back: "He's funny, a jokester; but they're blunt-type jokes, like, 'Dang, that's kind of rude.' "
Austin Lee and Taylor Loomis, defensive backs: Listed consecutively on the roster, they've known one another since playing baseball together as 8-year-olds. They competed as an Alta defensive back (Lee) and Jordan receiver (Loomis). And then they became missionary companions in Tulsa, Okla. Of course, Scott knows this detail: "How'd you guys set that up? It was weird. And they have just model-type bodies that everybody wants."
Lee is just happy to have Scott's endorsement as a DB. "It gives you self-confidence, to have someone with big of a stature believe in you," he said.
And on we go:
Braden Pelly, linebacker: "He's from Judge Memorial. He just wants to help the team. He's a cool addition."
A.J. Semeatu, running back: "His parents died within a year of one another."
Alex Whittingham, linebacker: "Alex is his middle name. He's a ' junior.' I was like, 'Why don't you go by Kyle? You'd get free meals.' "
Kyle Whittingham once was a BYU co-captain, along with Jim McMahon. Asked if he could have described every teammate, as Scott did, Whittingham said, "Back then, we had, like, 200 guys on the roster. Probably not."
With school now in session, the Ute roster is expanding beyond the 105, by about a dozen players. That increases Scott's welcoming workload, but he'll have the book on the newcomers, soon enough.
About Kenneth Scott
Born: Sept. 19, 1992, in Galveston, Texas.
High school: Colony (Ontario, Calif.); sophomore on 2007 team that featured current Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Injuries: Missed the 2010 season with an ankle injury sustained in August and missed the 2013 season after injuring his ankle in the first quarter of the opener vs. Utah State.
2014 season: Led Utes with 48 receptions, including the winning touchdown in double overtime at Stanford and six catches for 61 yards vs. Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl.