BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) -- Sophomore year starts with a new look for Indiana football's Stevie Scott.
First off, the running back from Syracuse, New York, has a new number: eight, the number his dad used to wear.
"My dad, he’s really been my role model since I’ll say about 12," Scott said. "He’s really helped me improve as a man and on the field and helping me stay on track in school."
Scott’s body is different. He was and still kind is built like a linebacker. In fact, he almost was a linebacker for the Hoosiers. But he’s dropped a few pounds (from 236 to 231 officially) and enters his second season in Bloomington in better shape.
"Coming in last year, that was my first camp coming straight out of high school," Scott said. "So I wasn’t really ready and prepared for the things that came with camp."
Along with his father, Scott can attribute his development in the backfield to a longtime mentor-turned coach with quite the college football resume: Mike Hart, a 2006 Heisman Trophy finalist who's in his third season coaching the Hoosiers' running backs.
"Stevie didn’t do anything when he was in high school. That was his problem," said Hart, the University of Michigan's all-time leading rusher. "But you guys see him. He looks great now. His first time lifting was probably when he got here last year."
Scott said he probably doesn’t end up at Indiana without Hart, who's also from Syracuse. They've known each other for years, but their relationship has reached another level after one full season at IU as player and coach.
"We’ve just been building every day from on the field and meetings, even outside of football," Scott said. "We have that strong bond, and I feel like that’s what we need to keep moving forward to help this team win."
Hart was more of a family friend, an adviser, to Scott early on. Switching to coach wasn’t difficult for the former Indianapolis Colts running back, who's past coaching stops include Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Syracuse.
"I treat them like they’re my kids, like they’re my sons," Hart said. "Sometimes, I yell at them. Sometimes, I love them up. It’s the same with Stevie. When they’re young, and they’re freshman, they don’t get it sometimes. But I think the older you get, you understand that if I’m not yelling at you, that’s why you should be concerned."
Scott has a tall task ahead of him in following up a breakout freshman season, during which he racked up 10 touchdowns and eclipsed 1,100 rushing yards. After another year under Hart's leadership, however, the running back believes he's ready to kick his game into a new gear, which means bad news for opposing defenses.
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