Rising Star: Bryan Scott emerging as a top QB in USFL

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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.

USFL Week 3: New Jersey Generals (1-1) vs Philadelphia Stars (1-1)

  • 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.”

RELATED: 2022 USFL Week 3 schedule – How to watch/live stream this weekend’s spring football games

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.

RELATED: 2022 USFL TV schedule – Dates, times, channels, live streams for the 10-week inaugural football season

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.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the 2022 USFL season – Teams, key dates, TV schedule, how to watch, and more

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

Pre-game ritual?

“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.”

Post-game ritual?

“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.”

Favorite movie?

“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.”

Favorite food?

“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.”

How to watch USFL Week 3 – Maulers vs Panthers, Generals vs Stars

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

Sunday, May 1

Control what you can control: How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL

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“Life feels good when you’re winning,” says one of the men responsible for the Generals’ success last season, running back Darius Victor. “I’m playing the game I love, my team is winning games, and that’s all a man can ask for.”

Victor was named the USFL’s Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with nine rushing touchdowns, ranking third in rushing yards (577), and fourth in yards per game (57.7). At 5’8″ and 209 pounds, with 30-inch quads (yes, you read that right…30 inches), the Generals RB is a wrecking ball on the field.

“Thick thighs save lives,” Victor recalls as he laughs about the Week 5 game-winning play. “I had to put them to use and push him [Perez] over to the endzone.”

With his light-hearted demeanor and self-described goofball personality, it would be hard to fathom the hell Darius Victor has walked through to get to where he is today.

“I’m not even supposed to be here”

Victor, who is one of seven children (4 brothers, and 2 sisters), was born in 1994 in a refugee camp in Africa’s Ivory Coast after his parents, Gary and Patricia, fled the first Liberian Civil War.

“Have you ever seen the movie Blood Diamond?” Victor asks, “That’s the type of environment I was born into.”

Victor and his family literally ran for their lives, hiding and sleeping in bushes for safety when their country was being torn apart by violence and bloodshed. Nearly 250,000 people — men, women, and children — lost their lives in Liberia’s civil war.

“I was too young to remember what happened at the time,” Victor told NBC Sports. “But from the stories my parents have told me about what we were running away from, I’m not even supposed to be here.”

The Victor family moved to the U.S. in 1999 and lived in Manassas, Virginia before moving to Hyattsville, Maryland, in 2002. After leaving everything behind, Gary and Patrica worked tirelessly to provide for their family and while their parents were out just trying to make ends meet, all seven of the Victor siblings Velma, Earl, Kevin, Darius, Leon, Shaka, and Nicole — looked out for one another. Helping with homework, making sure everyone was fed, and involved in activities. For Kevin and Darius in particular, that activity was football.

Sibling Rivalry

“My older brother Kevin was my role model growing up,” Victor recalls. “I used to go with him to football practice and he was pretty good. He was a Boys and Girls Club legend. I had to compete with him in everything and I wanted to be better than him in everything that I did. So I started playing football and tried really hard to be better than him. Having that role model to follow is what really gave me a love for the game.”

The duo, four years apart in age, went on to play football at Northwestern High School, sharpening each other with their competitive nature both on and off the field. But everything changed in December 2011, when Kevin was tragically shot and killed walking home from the local community center after playing basketball with friends — just one block away from his family’s apartment.

“Losing a child and a sibling is crazy,” Victor said. “It was tough but it made us even closer as a family. It made me go even harder because Kevin was always the tough one on me. When we were kids I would always cry on the football field if something didn’t go my way and Kevin would straighten me out.”

“His passing has given me a mindset of toughness and resiliency. I’m always thinking about him and trying to live up to the level of confidence that he had in me.”

In October, just 10 months after Kevin’s passing, Darius was in the midst of a breakout senior season when the Victor family’s apartment burned down.

“The toughest part wasn’t even losing our stuff but it was seeing my Mom and Dad cry again. That was so tough on me.” Darius recalls. “At that point in my life, I had to decide to never question God, believe that everything happens for a reason, and control what I could control.”

Towson Tough

With family at the forefront of his mind, Victor decided to play football at Towson University, where he earned a scholarship, roughly 45 minutes away from his hometown. He earned First-Team All-CAA honors in 2014, rushing for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns on 250 carries, but says he also a learned new level of toughness from his coaches and teammates that he still keeps in contact with today.

“Coach Reno Ferri really believed in me and that gave me so much confidence,” Victor said. “But there are so many guys there that really spoke into my life including my teammates FB Dreon Johnson, RB Terrance West, and coaches Rob and Jared Ambrose.”

Stay Ready

Victor, who only played in 4 games during his senior year of college due to a toe injury, went undrafted after graduating from Towson in 2017 but had several opportunities with NFL teams. Victor received an invite to the New York Jets rookie minicamp, the New Orleans Saints training camp, and even landed a spot on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad but unfortunately, those opportunities didn’t end the way he wanted them to.

However, the Hyattsville native didn’t let that discourage him.

“I’ve been through so much in life that I’ve grasped the concept of controlling what you control,” the 28-year-old said. “One of my mottos is to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready so doing that and just trusting God made me available mentally and physically for the next opportunity.”

For Victor, that meant showing up to train long hours after working a 9-5 job every day as a Sales Operations Manager at Penske and staying consistent no matter what — even when the CFL signed and cut him a day before he was supposed to leave for Canada (2019) and when the XFL season came to a sudden halt in the midst of a global pandemic (2020).

But when the USFL finally called, selecting him in the 6th round of the Supplemental Draft, he was ready. Victor says his love for his family and his faith in God is what fueled him during the hard times in life.

“Knowing all that my family has been through and the fact that we’re not even supposed to be here, every day I get is a blessing and I just want to make them proud. They are my why, ” says Victor, who is often spotted wearing merchandise with the phrase “Keep God 1st” on his clothing.

“I don’t care if you are a millionaire or dirt poor…life is going to life, but if you put God first everything will work itself out and that’s how I live my life.”

First and 10 with Darius Victor

To what do you attribute the New Jersey Generals’ early success?

“We have great coaching and great leadership. The team is very close and we hold each other accountable because we all have the same goal. We’ve all been through similar experiences. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked to 30 or 38 players who’ve been cut multiple times too and that creates a bond.”

“Also, we have a little chip on our shoulder because in preseason we were projected to finish last in the league due to our ‘talent level’, so shout out to whoever released those preseason polls because it made us hungry.”

If someone were to be a fly on the wall in the locker room, what’s one thing that they’d be surprised to find out about the New Jersey Generals?

“After a win, we do a ‘hip, hip hooray’ chant. Coach Riley goes ‘hip hip’ and the rest of the team goes ‘hooray’. It’s the greatest thing ever.”

What’s your role on the team?

“I’m one of the older guys on the team so I consider myself to be one of the leaders and the ‘special teams captain’. Coach always jokes around and says I’m the heart and soul of the team. I just want to do everything I can to make this team successful.”

How would you describe your style as a running back?

“I think I’m pretty balanced but the thing that separates me the most is my physicality. I don’t think a lot of human beings can run the football like me. If you just watch the tape or just watch the football games, that’s how I stand out.”

Pre-game hype song?

“I have to listen to the song “I’m a dog” by Gucci Mane that puts me in my zone.

Gameday superstitions?

“I have a superman Jesus cut-off shirt that I wear under my pads every game. I wouldn’t really call it a superstition but I wouldn’t feel right without it.”

What’s one thing about yourself that not everyone knows?

“I’m addicted to Candy Crush. I’m on level 4,650.”

Favorite Football player?

John Johnson, he’s the starting safety for the Cleveland Browns and also my best friend”.

Favorite Movie?

“Oh, Forest Gump. Easy.”

Favorite pair of kicks?

“Jordan 1s, I can’t pick one specific pair.”

Just Keep Going: Stallions RB CJ Marable makes a policy of perseverance

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RB CJ Marable was instrumental in helping the Birmingham Stallions become the inaugural USFL champions in 2022. Marable who was named the USFL Week 5 Offensive Player of the Week, was Birmingham’s leading rusher finishing the season with 401 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.

While his highlight reel was, quite literally, on display this past season, his journey to playing professional football has been far from easy.

A Dream is Born

Torrance Marable Jr., who goes by the nickname CJ, laced up his first set of football pads at the age of 5. Some of his earliest memories include tossing the ball outside with his father, Torrance Marable Sr., who doubled as his all-time quarterback in outdoor pickup games. It was in his hometown backyard in Decatur, Georgia that the elder Marable told his son he was capable of taking it to the next level, instilling in him a new passion for the game.

“He just looked at me one day and said, man, you’ve got it,” CJ recalls. “Just stay focused, stay consistent, and the sky is the limit. And that confirmed everything for me. I fell in love with the game and believed I could be whatever I wanted to be because my Dad said it.”

Marable, a two-star recruit coming out of Towers High School, initially signed with Arkansas State as a grayshirt, but in the weeks leading up to his expected start date, he says the communication with the school just stopped, unexpectedly. Arkansas State wasn’t returning his calls and when they finally called him back, they no longer had a place for him on the team.

Pivoting along the Path

Wanting to keep his football dreams alive, Marable pivoted his focus to playing at the junior college level. But a last-minute offer to play at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina — with a full scholarship — was one he couldn’t refuse. Marable’s 2017 freshman season was explosive: the Georgia native started all 11 games and led the Big South with 1,038 rushing yards only to find out that the school was pulling back on its football team and would become a non-scholarship program by 2020.

With his dreams once again the line, it was a familiar time for Marable – time to pivot. He transferred to Coastal Carolina, a place he says shaped him into a better person on and off the field.

“We had this acronym B.A.M., which stood for Be a Man,” Marable told NBC Sports. “Coach Jamey Chadwell taught us to be accountable for whatever we do and to stand on our own two feet. He told us that if you quit on football and can’t go through the hard times here, then there’s no way that you’ll be able to deal with the hard times in life.”

Deferred but not Denied

Marable finished his collegiate career with a streak of 32 straight games with at least one reception. In his three years at Coastal Carolina (2018-2020), he rushed for 2,691 yards with 41 total touchdowns, assembling impressive enough stats and film to sign as an undrafted free agent contract with the Chicago Bears in 2021. But once again, things didn’t go as planned and Marable was released before the start of the regular season.

“I wasn’t comfortable where I was because I felt like I should have been drafted,” he said. “I felt like I had a point to prove. I did what I was supposed to do but it just wasn’t in my favor at the time. I never wanted to question God so I just had to stay consistent, stay focused, and continue to grind to get to where I wanted to be.”

It was in this period, dialed in on training and staying pro-ready with tunnel vision focus, that he heard about the USFL, not just once but on three separate occasions. First, the idea came from his manager, who he calls “Hood”, who thought it would be a good opportunity for the running back. His trainer for the NFL combine agreed. But Marable brushed the idea off both times, wanting to stay focused on that potential NFL opportunity. It wasn’t until his girlfriend’s father brought it up again that Marable took it as a sign to do his own research and take the USFL seriously as a path forward in professional football.

Just Keep Going

Looking back, Marable credits his strong support system, specifically his Mother, Sabrina Sims, for helping him stay positive in periods of disappointment and uncertainty.  “She reminded me that every storm I’ve been in, I’ve got out of.”

“Life is going to hit you,” the 25-year-old said. “Nothing is going to go as planned but never give up. If I could go back in time and give my younger self advice it would be these two simple words: keep going. God’s got you, never give up.”

Leading by Example

Marable, who welcomed a baby boy in March with girlfriend Bayley Randall, says he wants to instill that lesson in his son Trae (Torrance Christopher Marable III).

“When he grows up I want to be that example and show him that Dad never gave up. Even though I failed at times the difference between me and anybody else is that I just never gave up.”

The Stallions running back is currently working towards a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology. He wants to help other athletes develop when his football career is over — which, at the rate he’s playing, doesn’t look like it’ll be anytime soon.

First and 10 with CJ Marable

Pregame ritual?

“I love to listen to music, my favorite artist is Future so that’s all I play. But my go-to hype-up album is “Thug Motivation” by Young Jeezy.

What is your role on the team?

To get the offense rolling. My strengths include blocking the ball out the backfield, my vision, and my speed.

To what do you attribute the Birmingham Stallions’ early success?

“I’m really impressed with how well we get along with each other. We laugh with each other. We joke with each other. We are a family. We spend our off days and downtime together. The offensive linemen and the running backs go out to eat every Thursday or Friday depending on the week.”

“Honestly, it feels great when everything you work for is paying off. But in the back of our minds, we know that we have to stay consistent. We have a bullseye on our chest. Everybody wants to beat the Birmingham Stallions.”

What is it like being the only USFL team to play in front of a home crowd?

“I feel like the fans are really coming out there and doing their job and it’s helped us a lot, especially on third downs you can just hear them yelling ‘defense, defense’. We’re the first professional football team for Alabama so it feels great to be able to just go out there and put on for the city of Birmingham.”

Favorite Running Back?

Reggie Bush. When I was at Carolina, we played against BYU on “College GameDay”, and I had a great game. Later during the week, I got interviewed by Reggie Bush so that was a cool experience.”

Favorite Food?

“Wings. All flats.”

Favorite Movie?

“Friday”

Favorite Vacation Spot?

Hawaii

How would your family and friends describe you as a person?

“I’m a driven person and I won’t let anything stop me from getting to where I want to be in life. I’m also funny and outgoing.

Name one thing about yourself that not everybody knows about you.

“I enjoy fishing.”

RELATED: Control what you can control – How journey through the fire led Generals RB Darius Victor to the USFL