By Thomas Sellers Jr.
His personality is reserved and blends into the crowd.
Munford senior TJ Scott doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight or letting others get all the press as long as there is overall success. That approach allowed Munford Head Football Coach Nick Markle to utilize Scott’s 6’1, 310-pound frame on his defensive line attracting double teams.
Scott’s contribution to the 2017 Cougars helped Munford finish near the top of Region 8-5A with a 8-2 record. The Cougars recorded a 42-14 playoff victory over Clarksville.
On March 15 the headlines, praise and recognition finally belong to just Scott. With his family present including mother Mary Martin and little brother Trey Scott, TJ signed his national letter of intent to play college football for Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
“I’ve been watching him since he played SYS when he started,” Martin recalled. “He was with the little Tipton Chiefs football. I’ve got a picture of him playing.
“He started playing when he was five,” she continued. “Because of his size, he started off early. That’s the first thing everybody comments on when they see him. They talk about how big he was. He’s always been a big guy. The size 16 shoe gives it away.”
Despite being one of the biggest on the field his whole life, TJ stayed humble growing up in Tipton County.
“He’s a pretty gentle spirit,” his mother said. “He’s very quiet. He’s a gentle giant.
“But he was a completely different person when it came to ball,” Mary added. “He flipped on a switch and became very aggressive. He was the Hulk.”
Coach like Markle channeled that aggression against opposing offensive lines to create tackling lanes for TJ’s teammates.
“TJ is as strong as an ox and he was big for us in the middle of the defensive line,” Markle noted. “Taking on double teams is his speciality. He was dependable and you could trust him out there on the field.”
Although teammates like Marcus Webb, Kylan Washington, Chaz Hayes, Cole Edrington and Will Hankins grabbed headlines from Scott’s blocking or engagement, TJ said he enjoyed his role on the Cougars.
“It was easy to suck in two people to free up the linebackers,” he noted. “Let the linebackers shine and do what they do best. They went up the field and hit hard.
“If you’re playing on the front line you have to be aggressive,” TJ added. “You’ve got to have a hard head sometimes. Playing D-Tackle you’ve got to take on a whole different type of hitting responsibility. You’ve got to open up those holes. Then when you get a chance, you’ve get to make a couple of tackles here and there.”
TJ enjoyed his tackles and his sack in 2017. And he also found happiness on National Signing Day watching his teammates Hayes (Cumberland), Washington (Cumberland), Webb (Cumberland), Hankins (South Alabama) and Edrington (Quachita Baptist University) sign letters of intent.
“This class has just been hard working and dedicated since day one when they walked through the doors as freshmen,” Markle said. “They’ve really been geared to wanting to be successful and build, not necessarily a team but a program. They were ready to take it to the next level. This is the most we had sign out of one class since our first year here, four years ago. We had five sign that year.
“This is a big moment for us, Munford High School and the program,” he continued. “I’m proud of TJ and all of the hard work he’s put in. He never gave up on his dream of playing football, even after Signing Day and everything else. He really stayed out there with coaches. He’s going to fit well. When he gets to Millikin, wherever they put him, he’s going to work hard for them.”
Now Scott will take his talents to Decatur, Illinois to play for Big Blue Head Coach Dan Gritti. Gritti joined the Millikin staff as the Big Blue Head Football Coach in December 2016. In his second season leading the program, Gritti guided Millikin to a 7-3 record in 2017.
Millikin is a NCAA Division III program that plays in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin.
“They have a 99 percent graduation rate and 92 percent placement rate,” Mary noted. “So when he gets out, he’s going to have a job. So that’s very exciting. I’m very excited and the coach is from Rhodes, where my brother went to school.”
Go Big Blue will be the new chant for Scott when he takes the field in the future. But the player who willingly took a backseat at Munford, enjoyed the view along the journey with his brothers.
“It was really special,” TJ said. “We had a family mentality from the time we walked in from middle school. Some of us played together since we were in SYS. Then a lot of us came together in middle school.
“We watched each other grow,” he concluded. “Bring us back for our senior season, this all means a lot to each one of us. We worked as a unit.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.