HAMMOND — They’re still vivid reminders that hang in the locker of Southeastern Louisiana wide receiver Devante Scott that epitomize a dark time in his career.
Whether it’s before each practice or home game, Scott opens his locker where the two knee braces he alternated wearing a year ago — one gold, one black — are stored with his helmet, shoulder pads and cleats. They’re reminders about how fragile the game can be and of the perseverance often required to play it.
“They show where I used to be,” Scott, a senior, said. “In the spring, (the coaches) asked me if I needed to play with the brace.
“I was trying to come out of the brace. I worked hard to get out the brace and get back normal.”
Nearly two full years after suffering a torn ACL and playing at less than 100 percent in his first season at Southeastern, Scott has rounded into form and provided the Lions with the playmaker at wide receiver and punt returner they envisioned all along.
Amid a dreary outcome in last week’s 35-20 loss at Tulane, Scott was a shining light for the Lions with 157 yards of total offense.
“He’s going to be a special player this year,” SLU coach Ron Roberts said. “He’s a guy people need to watch out for that’s going to emerge from nowhere.
“I think he’s going to be a star.”
When No. 4 SLU (2-1) travels to Southeast Missouri (1-2) for its final nonconference game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Scott will be the newest weapon in the Lions’ diverse offensive arsenal.
Not only did Scott finish with a career-high five catches for 91 yards and a score last week, he also rushed five times from his slot receiver position for 66 yards.
That performance pushed Scott atop a deep and talented wide receivers position with 11 catches for 219 yards and a touchdown. His 73-yards-per-game average, is fifth best in the Southland Conference.
“I knew at the end of last year he was getting healthy,” quarterback Bryan Bennett said. “I saw that talent in him. Getting to work with him in the offseason, getting the timing and getting and communication, I knew he’d have an opportunity to do lot of things for us this year and he has so far.”
Scott distinguished himself at Ferriday High School as a running back and defensive back, earning Concordia Parish’s Player of the Year.
He opted for Copiah-Lincoln (Mississippi) Community College and helped it to a state championship and earned second team all-state honors his final season.
Considering he only played four games his sophomore year, that was quite an accomplishment when Scott suffered his first major injury while trying to return a punt.
When it came to recruiting Scott — a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder — had several options but opted to follow his junior college roommate and fellow wide receiver Marquis Hayes to SLU.
Scott played in all of SLU’s 14 games with five starts, finishing with five catches for 66 yards and 91 yards rushing on nine carries.
He did deliver one highlight moment in the Lions’ FCS home quarterfinal loss to New Hampshire, returning a punt 41 yards for the eighth-longest return in school history.
“Last year he wasn’t even healthy and really should have been redshirted, but we weren’t in a spot to do that,” Roberts said.
“We’re trying to get him the ball because he’s got great hands and can run with it after he gets it. He can make explosive plays.”
Scott opened the season with a pair of catches for 37 yards against Jacksonville, increased that to four grabs a week later with 89 yards and first career touchdown in a 41-14 win over Southern Utah before surpassing last week with his best effort to date.
“It was hard watching my team making a run and I wasn’t able to play a lot,” Scott said. “Going through spring I wanted to work hard to get better and get back on the field. I wanted to help the team big time.”