On the preseason All Southern Conference team ,Laron Scott was picked by the coaches at two positions — defensive back and return specialist. And, deservedly so.
Scott, a senior from Warner Robins, had a stellar junior season as he played a key role in the resurgent Eagles’ 10-5 season and trip to the FCS semifinals.
His six interceptions equaled the school single season record, and he set a new GSU mark with 1,151 kick return yards including a single game record 173 against Wofford.
That production, along with Georgia Southern’s successful season, earned him a bit of the spotlight. Scott was All-SoCon, and a third team Associated Press All America.
And, he did this while nursing an injured shoulder which required off season surgery that caused him to miss spring practice.
Last Saturday night at Samford the quick — he runs a 4.3 40-yard dash — 5-foot-9, 179 pound senior lit up the Bulldogs with a 99-yard kickoff return that helped break open a close game that they wound up winning, 31-10.
The Eagles (1-0) will open their home season at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Paulson Stadium against Tusculum (1-0). The Pioneers beat West Georgia, 20-10, in their opener last weekend.
Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken pointed to Scott’s dash as one of the key plays in his team’s season opening win over the Bulldogs who were 3-0 against the Eagles since joining the league.
“I think it had a big impact on the game,” Monken said. “Particularly in a situation like we were in. It’s 14-7 then it’s 14-10 (following a Samford field goal).
“If they stop us (after the kickoff) and get a touchdown they’ve got the lead. They’re now right back in the same situation they were in only now they’re down 11.”
Scott now has 1,316 kick return yards for his career, only 70 shy of Karl Miller’s 1,386 set in the 1987-90 seasons.
“It felt great,” Scott said. “The guys came out to block, and I just put my trust in them. We’ve got good special teams.
“I think it got them (Samford) down a little. A play like that can definitely have an impact on the game. I think it led to us getting our offense going, and getting some momentum.”
Quarterback Jaybo Shaw agreed.
“It was huge,” Shaw said of Scott’s scoring return. “It got us a touchdown and kind of sparked the offense. The special teams executed and then the defense went out and made a stop.”
On their next two possessions following Scott’s score the Eagles got a 41 yard field goal from Adrian Mora and an 18 yard scoring run by Jerick McKinnon to break the game open.
It was the third touchdown of Scott’s career. In his very first game at Georgia Southern two years ago he scored on a 15 yard interception return in a 29-26 win over Albany State in the season opener.
Last year Scott had a 36 yard interception return for a touchdown in a 38-21 victory over Elon.
Still, the kickoff return stands out as a special moment in his football career.
“That’s the first kick I’ve ever returned for a touchdown,” Scott said. “I’ve never returned a kickoff or a punt for a touchdown in high school or college. The fact it came in a win and a time in the game when it was close makes it a little more special.”