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Scott deserved a personal explanation

It would have been one thing if De’Vante Scott had been shopping around.

The former Ferriday High School all-purpose athlete had his sights set on Mississippi State for several years. Head coach Dan Mullen offered Scott a scholarship in the early part of 2010, when he was still just a junior for the Trojans.

When Scott committed to the Bulldogs in late February 2010, then-Ferriday head coach Freddie Harrison mentioned loyalty as one of the main reasons his star athlete chose Mississippi State.

That loyalty was put to the test following a series of unfortunate events, for lack of a better description. Scott was forced to sign with Copiah-Lincoln Community College the following spring due to grades. His plans to continue his football career in Starkville were put on hold.

Despite the setback, Scott insisted that his plan was to sign with Mississippi State once he was done at Co-Lin. He never waivered from that plan.

During the Wolfpack’s game against Hinds Community College Sept. 20, Scott tore his anterior cruciate ligament, sidelining him for the rest of the season. After going through rehab for the rest of the fall, Scott battled with the idea of giving up football altogether. But thanks to some words of wisdom from his coaches, family and friends, Scott said he chose to hold onto the dream of playing Division I football.

That dream came true, but not according to Scott’s original plan.

Following his injury, Scott was informed by Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis that Mississippi State had “dropped” Scott — in other words, he no longer had an offer to play in Starkville. Despite more than two years of loyalty that dated back to high school, Scott ultimately signed with UAB — still Division I, but not SEC.

Over the summer, Scott said Mississippi State had re-offered him in March, and proceeded to say that all he wanted to do was to play in the SEC. Despite everything he had to overcome, Scott was not able to fulfill that dream.

What seems especially unfortunate is that Scott didn’t hear directly from the Bulldogs coaches to learn he no longer had an offer — the coaches called Davis, who informed Scott.

Scott is not the first athlete to be dropped by a school due to injury, and he won’t be the last. Nor is Mississippi State alone in the practice of changing its mind about a recruit after circumstances arise. For all the romanticism assigned to college football, especially here in the South, the sport is still ultimately a business. That’s an ugly reality of which we’re only too often reminded.

But the most frustrating thing in all of this, perhaps, is that the Bulldog coaches apparently didn’t respect Scott enough to tell him in person that he no longer had an offer. After so much loyalty for so long, Scott deserved that, at the very least.

I can only imagine how the conversation would have gone if one of the Mississippi State coaches had called him directly. They no doubt would have had to hear the disappointment, anger, frustration and heartbreak of Scott.

The Bulldog coaches made a decision to drop him, and they should have had the decency to face the consequences of that decision. Instead, they chose to do what so many in our culture do far too often: avoid pain at any cost, and take the easy way out.

When fall camp starts for the Blazers next year, I expect Scott will have a small chip on his shoulder. Hopefully, he can harness that energy and represent the Miss-Lou well, both on and off the field.