Yesterday on Bulldawg Illustrated’s Countdown to Kickoff 2016, we had one of UGA’s all-time greats at defensive back bring us in at No. 13, and today, we have another all-time great at defensive back, No. 12 Jake Scott.
Although the time Scott played for the Bulldawgs was before I was born, to ignore his contributions to the University of Georgia on the field would be a disservice to the All-American and All-Pro defensive back; although, Scott himself would probably not mind as he doesn’t oft seek admiration and the spot light, if ever.
Born in Greenwood, SC, he roamed the field in the Dawg’s secondary in the late 60’s and whoa unto any quarterback that dared tried to pass the ball near his orbit. Scott led Georgia in interceptions in 1967 with six and again in 1968 with 10. While Terry Hoage leads Georgia as the all-time leader in interceptions for a season with 12, it is Scott who is the all-time leader in school history in career interceptions with 16 and career interception return yardage with 315.
He had many memorable games, including a two-interception game against Kentucky in 1968 on the road (both returned for touchdowns), but his performance on the road in Knoxville, TN versus the Volunteers that same year helped Georgia to finish the game in a 17-all tie to start the season, propelling the Dawgs to a 5-0-1 conference record and SEC Championship when it was all said and done.
So why did the talented athlete only play for the Dawgs varsity team as a sophomore and junior? What happened to his would-be senior season in 1969. There are a number of stories about Jake Scott’s falling out with then Head Coach Vince Dooley after the 1968 regular season floating around, but for all intents and purposes, most have to do with Georgia choosing the Sugar Bowl bid over the Orange Bowl. David Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel elaborates on the Scott-Dooley fall out from an interview piece he did in 2006:
“But in 1968, after winning its final regular-season game, the team sent Scott into Dooley’s office carrying oranges as the players’ vote for an Orange Bowl bid and national title matchup. But Dooley, in a move he regrets, privately had signed already to play in a lesser Sugar Bowl. Scott cut Dooley from his life right there. This wasn’t just a football issue to him. It went deeper. It was about loyalty and trust.”
During that era of college football, players did not leave early for the NFL; so, Scott left Athens, GA and headed north of the US border to play Pro ball in the Canadian Football League in 69 for the BC Lions.
Afterward, he was selected in the 7th round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. During his rookie season, he made an instant impact for the Dolphins with 5 interceptions and a punt return for a TD. He would go on to have an outstanding 6 year-long NFL career in Miami earning 5 All-Pro selections and named MVP of Super Bowl VII. But again, Scott would have a falling out with his head coach, this time with Don Shula, which David Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel explains in more detail in his piece. After an expedition game he was supposed to play but could not (or would not), he was traded to Washington. He would play his final 3 years in the league with the Redskins from 1976 to 1978.
Scott would finish his NFL career with two Super Bowl Championships (both with Miami), 49 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries, and 130 punt returns for 1,357 yards and 1 touchdown in 126 regular season games. He was also brilliant in post-season play with 5 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries.
He was inducted into State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Georgia-Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
For all his athleticism and accolades on the field, Scott remains an enigma of a man who doesn’t really desire the praise for his accomplishments at Georgia and with the Dolphins, initially turning down the chance to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 before being inducted back in 2011. He rarely, if ever, attends award and honors banquets, and he has never really pursued induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We may never know what is the whole truth behind the football player Jake Scott, but his exploits on and off the field, such as supposedly riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle across the roof of Stegeman Coliseum while at Georgia, are the stuff of legends.
And the countdown continues. Go Dawgs!