Gainesville High School’s football coach Heath Webb knew something was up when Virginia Tech called Saturday morning, one week ago.
Makius Scott had just visited a University of South Carolina football camp that Friday and VT was the next stop.
Except plans had changed.
The three-star defensive lineman canceled the four-hour drive north and headed back toward Gainesville with a commitment call to make to USC head coach Will Muschamp.
“It kind of felt like that was the moment that it was going to be a done deal,” Webb said of the VT call. “Ultimately, it ended up being a done deal.”
The decision made sense to Webb. Scott was comfortable in Columbia, SC; it felt like Gainesville to him.
Even his mom, Emerald Williams, knew South Carolina was the right choice the first time they visited. That’s where she wanted him to go all along.
“I didn’t even go to a game,” Scott said. “I went to a junior day and they showed me around the campus and that’s when I knew it felt like home.
“The location and the people and the fans they just feel like home. I really can’t explain it.”
Scott praised the USC coaching staff for never overbearing their rule. Muschamp, defensive line coach John Scott Jr. and linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler always told him the truth, never twisting lies to schmooze his fancy.
“(They’re) not just telling me stuff to get me there,” Scott said. “They’re just telling me the truth about what formation I’ll be in on the field, what plays I’ll be playing.”
“They’ve been recruiting me heavy like no other colleges had.”
Once the early signing period for the 2019 class passed in December, Muschamp and his position coaches took rounds across the nation surveying the 2020 class.
Hutzler observed Scott at Gainesville High as much as the NCAA would allow, and in January, he offered Scott a full athletic scholarship.
Film is the main vehicle recruiters use to examine their prospects. Scott’s was impressive, but his preparation legitimized the reels. Webb pinpoints January 2019 as the defensive linemen’s moment of transformation into a Division I-caliber athlete.
In the height of the basketball season, the two-sport athlete continued his football strength and conditioning program. He never took a day off.
Webb notably recalls a weekday in January when Scott came in early for football workouts and played in a basketball game that night.
“I realized (then) he’s a little different,” Webb said. “He’s got long term vision. That workout in the morning was just as important as that basketball game in the evening. He wasn’t looking for shortcuts.
“Those with the long-term vision, those are the guys that get it.”
He blew up at that point, as Webb puts it. He gained 20 pounds of muscle, excelled athletically and amplified his speed. The eyeball test checked many boxes.
“The coaches that stuck around and watched him workout, they could see it,” Webb said. “The way he moves and how athletic he is to be 305 (pounds) and be as athletic as he is — not too many of those guys out there.”
Webb and his staff prepared Scott well for this pivotal moment in his life through the program’s steady focus on the preparation period.
One would expect a coach to identify a specific game or play on the field as the aha moment which cemented an athlete as a Division I-caliber talent.
In some circumstances, that might be the case, but Webb noticed Scott was different because his work ethic was of another level.
Muschamp noticed it during a January morning workout in Gainesville and said, “This is our guy.” Hutzler expressed similar sentiments to Webb during the Red Elephants’ spring game, “We’ve got to have this kid.”
Scott had the USC coaching staff in his grasp. All he had to do was decide.
Now that the decision has been made, the load has lessened. Scott’s focus is steered toward August — the launch of his senior season.
The main goal is to win region, then compete for a state title if the opportunity arises. After that, he will have to leave for a town three hours north that soothingly resembles his hometown.
“I’m still not ready to leave Gainesville because I love Gainesville,” Scott says. “But when that time comes, I’ll be ready.”