Stevie Scott is a big boy.
It’s something IU Coach Tom Allen has reiterated multiple times about his freshman running back.
He’s so big that when Allen recruited him out of Christian Brothers High School in Syracuse, New York, he told Scott if things didn’t work out for him at running back, he was going to be moved to linebacker.
The 6-foot-2, 236-pound true freshman boasts a barrel of a chest, brutish strength and shoulders broad as a barn.
On Saturday night, Scott used those broad shoulders to plow his way through the visiting Virginia defense and carry his team to a 20-16 victory in IU’s 2018 home opener.
“He’s a big boy, now,” Allen said. “He’s just naturally very strong, he has really good patience and vision. I noticed that right away in fall camp. I knew this kid was going to be special.”
Allen’s high praise came after a nearly historic night on the ground for Scott.
In the midst of the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon and surrounded by a slowly dwindling crowd, leaving due to the rain and the muck, Scott had what would be a career night for most — in just his second game as a Hoosier.
Scott rushed for 204 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run on 31 carries, finishing just three yards short of breaking the IU freshman rushing record of 207 yards set by Anthony Thompson in 1986.
“It’s pretty special, but I left a lot of hitting yards on the field that I could’ve possibly broke the record,” Scott said. “So, during this next week of practice, I’m just going to go hard and pick my feet up doing drills to help myself.”
In the second half of Saturday’s game, when Virginia slowly clawed its way back, trying to make a comeback, IU’s offense leaned heavily on Scott.
He accounted for 140 of the Hoosiers’ 201 second-half yards and of IU’s 39 second-half plays, 23 of them were rushes from Scott.
Much of Scott’s production came from his ability to keep his feet moving and fight for extra yardage, stemming from that strength and power he’s impressed IU’s coaches with throughout the offseason.
“Those one, two, three yards put us in easier situations, especially in the rain,” IU sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey said. “When it’s third and four opposed to third and seven or third and eight, those yards become extremely valuable.”
For Scott, it was much simpler than that.
“I just bulldoze people,” Scott said.
Scott’s big night couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hoosiers.
With sophomore Morgan Ellison still suspended indefinitely and sophomore Cole Gest sidelined for the season after tearing his ACL in IU’s season opener last week, the Hoosiers’ depth at the running back position looked young and inexperienced.
“I knew once those two guys were out, it was just time to step it up,” Scott said. “Next man up, so I just had to play and play for this team and play my part just to help us win.”
With his hulking stature, Scott may not necessarily need to grow more physically, but Allen said he knew there was still room for him to grow as a player.
After Saturday’s performance, both Scott’s coaches and teammates agreed he had taken a major step in doing just that.
“He grew up tonight,” Ramsey said. “We had talked about that all week. We needed somebody from that room to step up and he kept coming back after a big run and was just like ‘feed me, I want the ball.’”
After watching Scott in the offseason, Allen said he was excited to see what he could bring to the team moving forward.
But perhaps even Allen couldn’t have predicted just how quickly Scott evolved from being a big boy to being a big man.
“I thought he had something different about him,” Allen said. “Then we got to camp and started watching him run and I’m like, ‘yeah, this guy’s going to be alright.’”
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