John Scott Jr. is a football lifer. After a four-year collegiate career at Western Carolina, where the defensive lineman was named second-team All-Southern Conference, Scott played professionally in the Arena Football League’s development division from 2000-2003. It wasn’t until his playing days were over that he found his calling as a d-line coach.
Scott worked his way up through the high school and college ranks until getting his first big break when he joined Kliff Kingsbury’s staff as defensive line coach at Texas Tech University, where he helped current San Francisco 49er Kerry Hyder develop into an All-Big 12 defensive lineman.
Following his stint with the Red Raiders, Scott spent two seasons as an assistant d-line coach with the New York Jets under Todd Bowles. He then moved on to Arkansas for two seasons before signing on with Will Muschamp at South Carolina prior to the 2019 season, where he coach 49ers draft pick Javon Kinlaw during his season senior year.
Scott is now the d-line coach at Penn State University, but he took some time out to talk about what Niners fans can expect for the 22-year-old Kinlaw.
You joined the Gamecock prior to the 2019 season, what were your first impressions of Javon?
“Obviously, as a coach, you want to come in and see what you got to work with. Coach Muschamp was like, “Hey, we are going to have a good group, we got this guy named Javon Kinlaw, whose got a lot of untapped potential. We think this can be a big year for him.’ So, when I got there, I watched everyone one of his snaps that he had his junior season. I knew Javon had big-time potential. Watching him play Vanderbilt, he physically dominated and controlled that game. I mean, killed them. I think he had like three sacks, two caused fumbles, they couldn’t block him. I mean, he just looked unblockable. So, I am like, ‘man, this guy is a really good player.’ I watched his tape and thought, how can I help this guy where he wants to get to. I watched every one of his clips, and I think at the time they had a fourth through sixth-round grade on him and I was like, ‘no way,’ what he showed against Vanderbilt, this guy could be a dominant first-round guy, All-SEC, All-American type player. Javon and I sat down, and we watched every one of his clips from his junior year, and I coached with the New York Jets as an assistant d-line coach for two years, and I was like this guy has first-round talent. I believed I could help him be a first-rounder. Javon is a physical specimen, and he really worked in the weight room. He trusted me on the things he needed to get better on, and I was able to do that. Javon put the work in, and in my opinion, he was the best tackle in the SEC. That kid was as dominant as I have ever seen.”
As he progressed through his senior season, what jumped out to you as the biggest strength of his game?
“His passion and how hard he plays. The kid is so driven, the way he loves the game and his passion to be the best and get after people, that is what drives him. God blessed him with a great body and a great frame. Long arms, big butt, strong, I mean when Javon strikes you or gets his hands on you, you’re in trouble. He plays the game in a violent way. Watch how he uses his hands, he sheds blockers and just plays so physical and attacks people. He can be really disruptive.”
What does he need to improve on to maximize his potential at the NFL level?
“As a D-lineman, you always want to get better on your fundamentals. I mean, everyone across the board should continue to work on pad level and things like that. Where you’ll see Javon take a leap is his pass rush moves. You got a great D-line coach there [Kris Kocurek], I can see him really blossoming and falling right in line with Kris [Kocurek] has taught and developed those guys. Our system and our scheme at South Carolina, you didn’t really need a whole lot of rush moves. We really focused heavily with him stopping the run. I think where you’re going to see Kinlaw take another step is the pass rush moves. He’s got great hips and great feet, he and I talked about it right before the draft, about where he could grow to with a couple more pass rush moves I saw potential for him to have. I know Kris [Kocurek] will take him to the next level with that.”
Which past or present NFL player does Javon remind you of?
“He reminds me of [New York Giants’ defensive lineman] Leonard Williams. Both of those guys are 6’6, strong and quick guys. I thought as a senior, Javon had a more powerful punch than Leonard Williams. I had a chance to work with Leonard in New York for a couple of seasons, and I think he is really good. I think Javon will be more powerful than him coming into the league, and Leonard’s turned into one of the best defensive tackles in the league. That is who he reminds me of in the NFL.”
What is Javon like off the field?
“Javon is an outstanding young man. I am sure you have heard his story and how he was brought up. What you’re getting with Javon off the field is a guy who handles his business. He is a homebody. He is a family man who is surrounded by them all the time. You’re getting a guy who is going to be a positive light in the community. He understands what struggle is, he’s been down that path. When he’s at work, he’s going to be business; he’s going to be all ball. He’s going to put the time in, study it, and wants to be the best. When he’s at home, he’s going to be with family, and that is important to him. Javon’s definitely laid back in his personal life, compared to what he is on the football field, which is pissed, which is a good thing. You’re getting a great guy.”
Scott seems sure that Kinlaw will develop into a beast at the next level.
What do you think of his assessment of the 49ers’ first-round pick?