A teenage Bryan Scott had a simple wish: To be the starting varsity quarterback at Palos Verdes (Calif.) High School for his 2012 senior season.
He got his wish and then some. Scott not only won the starting job but helped lead the Sea Kings to their first California Interscholastic Federation title in nearly 50 years.
With no plans to pursue college football, he was perfectly content to leave it at that.
“I was so happy,” Scott – now the 26-year-old quarterback of the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars – recalled this week to NBC Sports. “You wanna talk about me at the beginning of the season, saying, ‘All I want to do is start, that’s it, that’s all I care about,’ to us winning (a title) for the first time in (nearly) 50 years? I’m on top of the world. I don’t care if I ever play another snap of football ever again.
“I was like, ‘Alright, I did it! I did it! I don’t need to prove any more, I’ve got a high school ring!’ Friday Night Lights, best time of my life. But ultimately, I got invited to play in this All-Star game and I’m like, ‘Screw it, I’ll strap it up one more time.'”
One more time has become many more times – through four seasons at Div. III Occidental College in Los Angeles, visits with multiple NFL teams, and two MVP awards and a championship in The Spring League, where he and many of his Stars teammates first played under Stars head coach Bart Andrus.
- When: Sunday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Peacock
- Where: Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama
- Live Stream: Peacock
Now, he’s starting to make his mark in the USFL. Entering the Stars’ Sunday night game against the New Jersey Generals, Scott leads the league in multiple passing categories, including yards (474), completion percentage (70.8%), and touchdowns (4). The Stars come off a 30-23 win last week over the Pittsburgh Maulers in which Scott threw for 272 yards and scored four total touchdowns (three pass, one rush).
First place in the North Division will be on the line between the Stars and Generals. Keep in mind that only the top two teams in both the North and South Divisions will make the USFL Playoffs following the end of the 10-week regular season.
There are important stakes in this Week 3 matchup. Scott relishes these spots. But he didn’t always enjoy them, even as he grew up playing three sports – football, basketball and baseball.
“I look back on it and I didn’t really realize it until I became a professional athlete, but all the things that I played when I was younger and my Dad (Bob Scott) coaching me and putting me in all these pressure situations has truly helped me as I’ve gotten older,” Scott said.
“Because I didn’t want to go in when I was 10 years old, 11 years old. I (didn’t want to) have to go win the game and get three outs. But I’m happy that my Dad made me do that because now I’m used to it. Now I want it. Now I want the ball.”
— Philadelphia Stars (@USFLStars) April 28, 2022
He entered another “pressure situation” upon arriving at Occidental College, after their head coach, Doug Semones, had recruited him at that aforementioned All-Star game.
Scott, who committed to “Oxy” following his first recruiting visit there, became the Tigers’ starting quarterback as a 17-year-old true freshman. It was a heavy burden.
“I’ve got 22-year-olds in their senior season and this is their last go of ever playing football,” Scott said of the situation. “So it takes a little bit of leadership and responsibility and ownership when things are going good and things aren’t going good.
“I was forced into something as a young man. How am I going to respond? How am I going to react to the guys (for whom) this is their last go? It pushed me to be the very best person, the best leader and the best player I could be – not for myself, but for those guys. Because I understood how much it meant to them.”
Scott was up to the challenge. He went on to set numerous school and conference passing records over 2013-16 at Occidental. The school discontinued football in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two years after graduating, the next test for Scott came in The Spring League in 2018.
He had some NFL tryout experience under his belt at this point (Rams, 2017). But in the TSL, he found himself going throw-for-throw against players he watched on television.
One of them was past Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, whose memorable college career had left Scott in awe.
“When I was in college – Johnny Manziel walked on water,” said Scott, who added that he still has a lot of respect for him. “I was watching Johnny Manziel highlight tapes. Johnny Manziel was the guy. He was unbelievable. I’d never seen anything like him.
“Then, in 2018, I’m going against him! I’m playing against him. And we ended up winning the game. I threw five straight touchdowns to beat him. When that happened, the little switch in my head went off. ‘Bryan, you can do this. Bryan, you can play at this level.’”
He went on to win the TSL’s MVP award that season and earned tryouts with the Chiefs and Falcons.
Two years later in the TSL, he won another MVP award and the championship playing on an Andrus-coached team called – ironically, especially this week – the Generals.
Following the 2020 season, Scott worked out with the Saints and Colts. According to Scott, the Saints told him they were going to sign him after the 2021 NFL Draft if they didn’t select a quarterback. They did, selecting Notre Dame’s Ian Book in the fourth round.
Not wanting to be merely an NFL “camp arm,” Scott set his sights on the new USFL when the league was announced last June.
“I’m familiar with Brian Woods, who’s the president of the (USFL) and he ran The Spring League, so I knew I’d get the opportunity,” he said. “Since June, I was locked in on playing in this. I got myself in the best shape I could possibly get myself and worked on the little things that I needed to correct in my game.
“From there, since June, I’ve just been waiting for this opportunity. I’m extremely excited and blessed and enjoying the moment right now for what it is because I think it’s a great league. There’s a lot of positives to this thing and I’m excited to see how it grows and I’m excited to see how we continue to progress as a team.”
Like many in the USFL, Scott’s ultimate goal is to be, in his words, “an asset to an NFL team, on and off the field.” But while he hasn’t yet cemented himself at the top level of pro football, he refuses to have a chip on his shoulder about it.
He credits that to everyone who’s supported him on his journey – family, friends, his former teammates at Occidental, his current teammates with the Stars. To him, it’s better seeking to reward their faith than to prove doubters wrong.
“Love is way more stronger than hate and I play for the people that love me,” he said of his mentality.
“I play for the people that wanna see me go out there and see me throw five touchdowns and lead a game winning drive. … When I step on the field, I’m going to prove them right, not the people waiting to see me do something wrong. For me, it’s really an easy choice.
“No matter what, I would rather live like that than live the other way.”
First and 10 with Bryan Scott
10 quick questions to get to know the new talent of the USFL
“I listen to a couple songs, go out there, do a stretch, throw a little bit. One thing I do that’s a little different is when I throw in my warmup, I always throw on the hash marks. I’ll throw about 10 yards apart, then I’ll back up to 15, 20, 25, 30, so on and so forth. But I like to throw right on the hash marks to make sure, if I’m off – left or right, up or down – that I’m able to see how I’m off and how I need to correct it.”
“I just pray and thank God, either that I’m safe or my teammates are safe or that I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Favorite football player?
“I would say the player I have the absolute most respect for has got to be Tom Brady.”
“I would say The Dark Knight and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.”
Favorite vacation spot?
“It’s gotta be Maui or Kauai with my family.”
“I like chicken fingers a lot.”
Most famous person you’ve met outside of football?
“I met Will Ferrell. … Just saw him, introduced myself – ‘Dude, you’re really funny. Appreciate the laughs.’ I wish I got to meet Kobe (Bryant) or Drake, though. Those are my two guys.”
How would your family and friends describe you as a person?
“I would probably say confident and sweet, or loving.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
“I could give you 10 things. (Laughs). Nah, probably nothing, man. I’ve been extremely blessed all my life and God’s given me so much already, so – nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Name one thing about yourself that not everybody knows about you.
“I like to surf. I wouldn’t call myself a surfer, but I can surf. I mean, I grew up in Southern California my entire life. My Dad is a huge paddle surfer, so sometimes, he’ll pull me out there and let me surf with him. That’s something I love to do, spend time with my Dad out there.”
Saturday, April 30
- Tampa Bay Bandits at Houston Gamblers, 4:00 p.m. ET on Fox
- Birmingham Stallions at New Orleans Breakers, 7:00 p.m. ET on Fox