By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Latrell Scott liked to kid Lane Kiffin that he was too young to be a head coach.
Little did Scott know that this past offseason, he would surpass Kiffin as one of the NCAA's youngest head football coaches.
In a sporting world that focuses greatly on finding the next whiz kid to be a coach or general manager, the new man in charge at the University of Richmond isn't interested in such a label. Scott, who turns 35 on July 17, simply wants to be a championship coach.
"I'm energetic. I like to coach football," Scott said. "I'm too young to be a figure head-type of football coach. I like to get my hands involved with the offense, defense and special teams. I think it's a fun dynamic for the guys to have someone who's not that old. We're business-like, but we're also running around having a good time.
"One thing that I draw from by still being a young guy is I'm not very far removed from having played. So a lot of stuff we incorporate we look at like, 'Hey, what do we think about this stuff as a player?'"
Scott may be young for a head coach, but the former tight end at Hampton University has been coaching since 1999, with stops at six schools. He has returned to Richmond after spending the 2005-07 seasons there, initially coaching the wide receivers before being promoted to recruiting coordinator and then assistant head coach to Dave Clawson. During those three seasons, Richmond was 26-12 and made two FCS playoff appearances, and built the foundation for the Spiders' FCS championship season under Mike London in 2008 (when Scott coached wide receivers at Tennessee), and an 11-2, CAA Football championship squad in 2009 (Scott watched from afar while coaching wide receivers at Virginia).
"I want them to be a tough, physical, smart football team," Scott said. "I want them to play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. Most of all, I just want them to play hard."
When Richmond hired Scott last Dec. 15, he became the third-youngest Division I coach to Portland State's Nigel Burton and Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart. At the same time, he basically flip-flopped schools with London, as Richmond's head coach of the last two seasons has left to become Virginia's head man.
Scott isn't all that's new at Richmond this season. The Spiders will play on campus for the first time in 80 years, moving from the downtown Richmond Stadium to the renovated Robins Stadium, which will seat 8,700 following its $25 million facelift. The group of assistant coaches is relatively new, with Scott bringing in Wayne Lineburg (a former Richmond assistant) as offensive coordinator and Bob Trott as defensive coordinator, both of whom were with him at Virginia last year. Quarterback Aaron Corp, the transfer from Southern California, is trying to win the starting job. Plus, many of the other starters will be first-timers, with the Spiders returning only three starters on offense and four on defense.
The 4-3 defense appears to be the team's strength with three potential All- Americans in nose tackle Martin Parker, linebacker Eric McBride and cornerback Justin Rogers plus linebacker and returning tackle leader Patrick Weldon - all redshirt seniors whom Scott helped recruit to Richmond. Cornerback Tremayne Graham, who gets overshadowed by Rogers, and nose guard Corey Jackson came on strong during spring practices and will be relied on heavily.
Offensively, the Spiders will have a standout trio of receivers in senior Kevin Grayson and juniors Tre Gray and Donte Boston, who combined for 132 receptions and 10 touchdowns last season, and they hope the committee of Tyler Kirchoff, Garrett Wilkins and Jovan Smith as well as fullback Kendall Gaskins (seven total touchdowns as a freshman last season) can collectively replace 1,000-yard rusher Justin Forte.
Most eyes, however, are focused on the quarterback battle. Corp, a redshirt junior, hasn't been handed the job over last year's backup, redshirt sophomore John Laub.
"John's a big, physical, probably more of a pocket guy," Scott said. "John has a big arm, he can make all the throws, makes good decisions. Aaron gives you just a little more athleticism. I don't want to say that John isn't athletic because he is, but Aaron gives you kind of Jake Plummer-esque kind of deal - he's a wiry kind of guy who gets himself in and out of situations pretty good. Both of them are very smart kids, they do a great job of learning from each other. Aaron's probably got a little bit more experience playing the position because he's played it in a faster-paced tempo, whereas John is kind of catching up to that. They had a great spring. One day you think one guy is going to be the starter, the next day you think the other guy is going to be the starter."
The new QB will work behind a rebuilt offensive line because redshirt senior center Drew Lachenmayer is the only returning starter. But Richmond might have filled one spot with the recent addition of Rutgers transfer Richard Muldrow, who likely will play on the left side.
Ironically, the Spiders will open their 2010 season against London on Sept. 4 at Virginia. The debut of Robins Stadium offers a difficult opponent as well when Elon visits Sept. 18. Road trips to New Hampshire (Oct. 9), Villanova (Oct. 30) and William & Mary (Nov. 29) don't make the CAA Football schedule particularly inviting, either.
"It's a group that's won, but they really don't feel like people think they can win on a regular basis because when you go back and you look at Richmond's program, it had been kind of up-and-down, year-in, year-out," Scott said.
"I think it's a group that has a lot to prove."
Similar to their new head coach.
AROUND THE FCS
- Mississippi Valley State's renovations at Rice-Totten Field will not be completed in time for the 2010 season, so the university has moved its Sept. 18 home game against Alcorn State to Soldier Field in Chicago and three home games to Greenville (Miss.) Weston High School - Oct. 2 versus Prairie View A&M, Oct. 23 versus Grambling and Nov. 13 against Alabama A&M. The Delta Devils finished 3-8 last season.
- Central Arkansas signed head coach Clint Conque to a five-year contract extension. He has a 73-43 record through his first 10 seasons, including a 29-17 mark since the Bears entered the FCS from Division II in 2006.
- Youngstown State asked Purdue transfer Najee Tyler to play H-back or tight end, but the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder decided he wants to remain a quarterback. Tyler is expected to compete for the starting job with junior Marc Kanetsky and redshirt freshman Kurt Hess.
- Illinois State, coming off a 6-5 season, including a surprising 5-3 mark in the rugged Missouri Valley Football Conference, has brought in four transfers from Big Ten schools: running back Erik Smith and linebacker Leonard Hubbard from Wisconsin, running back Ashton Leggett from Michigan State, and defensive Milton Owens from Indiana. In addition, wide receiver Marvon Sanders has come aboard from Eastern Michigan.
- That the Northeast Conference released a statement regarding its talks with Rhode Island about joining the conference in 2013 - including the sentence "Both parties are discussing the logistics linked with associate membership and a formal announcement regarding the status of a future partnership will be made by mid-August" - makes it appear the move is likely.
- Old Dominion's 9-2 record as an independent last season represented the most wins for a start-up program in FCS history. While the Monarchs prepare for the move into CAA Football next year, ODU has made this year's schedule more difficult with the likes of William & Mary, Gardner-Webb and Cal Poly on the home schedule and a road game at Hampton. "As I told the team when we had our last meeting this spring, it is going to be incredibly difficult to duplicate that 9-2 record with the schedule that we're playing," head coach Bobby Wilder said. "We're going to have to be very good right out the gate with this season."
- Running back Toddrick Pendland of McNeese State led the FCS in scoring offense last season - 10.73 ppg with 19 touchdowns in 11 games. Colgate running back Nate Eachus scored 16 touchdowns in only eight games as a sophomore - 12 ppg - but was absent from NCAA statistics because he failed to fulfill the required minimum for games played. Eachus should have a banner season for the expected Patriot League favorite.