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McDonogh grad Taysean Scott readying for football World Championships

College SportsTrack and FieldFootballTyrann Mathieu

The General.

That's the nickname Taysean Scott earned on the basketball court when he was 7 for his fearless style of play and innate ability to lead.

The nickname stuck, and Scott has adopted a similar mentality on the football field. Scott, who grew up in Baltimore and attended McDonogh, is a star cornerback at Williams College. He made a name for himself on the field during his freshman season, starting nearly every game and dominating defensively.

Starting in mid-July, though, The General will join a new team: He's part of a 44-man roster that will represent the United States at the 2014 International Federation of American Football Under-19 World Championships in Kuwait.

"I'm really excited," Scott said. "I'm glad I have the opportunity to play for the U.S. Everyone is excited for me, and I'm ready to go over there and show what the U.S. has."

The roster is comprised of high school and college football players and includes players from 20 states. The U.S., which will compete against Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait and Mexico, won the tournament in Canton, Ohio, in 2009 but lost to Canada in Austin, Texas, in 2012.

"Speaking with him during the interview process he struck me as a really sharp kid and the kind of kid you want playing for your country," said Todd Bell, director of operations for USA football.

Bell said he and his staff mulled over hundreds of applications — from a mix of high school, Division I, Division II and Division III players — but Scott's on-field skill set combined with his driven personality made him the perfect fit.

"In a lot of ways putting a team like this together is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded," Bell said. "You don't really know what it's going to look like until you're done."

Scott's coach at Williams, Aaron Kelton, nominated him to join the team. Kelton will also serve as the defensive line coach in Kuwait.

Kelton believes Scott has the tenacity and skill level to play Division I-AA. Though he assumes scouts were deterred by his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame, Kelton said Scott's size isn't an issue.

Scott started his first game on the bench, but was on the field after three series, and stayed there.

Opposing offenses tried to pick on him; he was an unproven, undersized freshman. But time after time Scott responded, batting down passes and making receivers' lives miserable.

Kelton remembers one game in particular early in the season when Scott broke up two passes.

"He looked over to the sideline and said 'Coach, I told you I was ready to do this,'" Kelton said. "He's just that kind of kid. He's not cocky, he's confident. He has a swagger about him."

That swagger is similar to that of his favorite player, Tyrann Mathieu, the undersized Arizona Cardinals defensive back who goes by the moniker Honey Badger.

When Scott arrived at Williams he had a blonde streak in his hair, just like the Honey Badger. Both players thrive on their energy and footwork.

Now the blonde streak is gone, but the intensity is still there.

"I just like to be a ball hawk," Scott said. "[Mathieu] is always around the ball making plays. I just love to get my team into the game like he does."

Scott, who has never traveled outside of the country, said he has no idea what to expect in Kuwait.

He knows it will be hot, but he's excited to get a flavor of what life is like there. Because he plans to play on the Williams basketball team next year, Scott wouldn't have had a chance to go abroad like many of his peers, but now he'll have that opportunity.

"There really was no hesitation when he found out he was nominated," Scott's father, Ronald, said. "He's never been a kid that shied away from opportunities, specifically this one."

Scott has been doing everything he can to ensure he's in prime shape when the competition rolls around on July 8. Every week, Monday through Thursday, he and his 16-year-old brother, Nigel, run one mile to a specific traffic light in his neighborhood and back.

Then they sprint — 110 meters, 300 meters, 500 meters. He's also been using a lifting program he learned at Williams to maintain his strength.

Kelton knows Scott embodies the roles of Ball Hawk, Honey Badger and General, but most of all he says Scott is a competitor.

"He can really go and get it," Kelton said. " … It wouldn't surprise me that in four years we're talking about him being an All-American."

thass@baltsun.com

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