Living the dream
In an attempt to explain the excitement, the stress and the sheer enjoyment of the past two months, Rodney Scott took a deep breath and said two words.
That suits the situation quite well. Scott is the father of Tyler and Tanner Scott, both of whom earned the chance to play professional sports in the last two months.
Tyler, a 2009 Howland High School graduate, was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent after a great career as a defensive end/linebacker at Northwestern University. His younger brother Tanner, a 2012 Howland grad, played one season at Notre Dame College before transferring to a junior college in Texas. That’s where his velocity reached its peak at 98 mph. The hard-throwing lefty was then drafted in the sixth round of last week’s MLB draft.
Like Rodney said, it’s crazy.
“It’s been a great ride,” he said. “I would’ve never thought in my wildest dreams that both boys would do so well. They’re both very good academically, but I would have never thought this.”
Neither did the kids.
Both were standouts for the Tigers but admitted they never envisioned this type of success. Tyler was an All-Ohio selection as a senior linebacker on the football team. He set a school record with 147 tackles as a senior and added six interceptions and eight sacks. He thrived almost immediately at Northwestern, playing in 13 games as a redshirt freshman and then becoming a three-year starter at defensive end.
He was a co-captain as a senior, a season highlighted by a strip-sack of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. A career that saw him finish sixth on the Wildcats’ all-time sack list with 16 gave him a chance to be drafted. While that didn’t happen, the Vikings contacted his agent immediately following the draft, and he’s currently fighting for a roster spot.
“I never would’ve ever thought I’d be playing in the NFL,” Tyler said. “It was pretty surreal getting that call from my agent telling me that I was going to be a Minnesota Viking. A month later my parents are going through the same stresses of where my brother is going to go (in the draft) and what’s going to happen. They just want the best for both of us.
“It’s just been a crazy, surreal couple of months, and both of us are just ecstatic and trying to make the most of the opportunities we were given.”
Tyler’s trying to make it last as long as possible. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound older brother called the NFL “a different beast” than college. The blend of size, speed and smarts is unlike any he’s seen and forces him to be at his best every time he steps on the field.
“I’ll tell you straight up, I’m not the fastest or the strongest guy,” he said. “I was strong enough, fast enough to get to this level, but when you get here, it’s all about your technique and learning the schemes because you have set yourself apart from those guys that are those freak (athletes) that can run faster and jump higher and can out-power people. You have to be a student of the game a whole lot more. I’ve learned so much through college, and since I’ve been up here – it’s only been a month – I can’t believe how much I’ve learned already.”
Tanner’s ride to the top was a bit different. He went to Notre Dame College, a Division II school, and enjoyed some success as a true freshman. He then transferred to Howard College in Texas, which serves as a feeder school for Texas Tech. His goal of joining the Red Raiders was reached when he earned a scholarship following a strong season with the Hawks. His year at Howard was so good, in fact, that the Baltimore Orioles picked him in the sixth round (181st overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft.
“I was actually at my mom’s,” said Tanner of where he was when he got drafted. “Since it wasn’t televised, we were watching it on the computer. So, when we saw my name, we were like, ‘Woah, woah, it happened!’
“It was fun.”
Tanner’s success was a bit more of a surprise because he only threw in the upper 70s going into his senior year of high school, but he said he spent the summer working out and learning from former Howland coach and Cleveland Indians pitcher Jason Stanford. The work paid off. His velocity jumped as high as 91 mph as a senior and continued to grow, reaching 93 at Notre Dame, then 95 this past fall and after a change in his throwing program at Howard, the 19-year-old hit 98 in the spring.
“(Stanford) definitely had a big impact because before that I was just a Howland baseball player who loved the sport, and the next thing you know he changed me into a pitcher and told me I had potential,” Tanner said. “I’m blessed. I got put in a good spot.”
Tanner isn’t sure yet if he’s going to sign with the Orioles or go to Texas Tech, where he could improve his draft position and earn more money a year from now if he is drafted again. It’s a topic he and his brother have discussed. The two talk daily, they said, and have stayed humble despite their success.
Their parents, Rodney Scott and Bette Apitz, are the ones who instilled such values – and good genes. Both Rodney and Bette were athletes in high school – Rodney at Niles and Bette at Howland.
“They just want to see us do our best,” Tyler said. “If you ask them, I don’t think they would ever have thought this would’ve happened. They just want to see us reach our goals and see us happy.
“They’ve given us every opportunity to make our dreams come true. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
With today being Father’s Day, Rodney could be disappointed his kids can’t be there with him (Tyler is in Minnesota and Tanner joined a summer-league team in Cape Cod, Mass.), but he’s taking a different approach.
“I know it’s my Father’s Day, but I’m always thinking, ‘What can I fix?’,” he said. “As long a my boys are happy, it’s all right.
“I’ve been blessed. Their mother and I, even though we’re not together, we know we’re both very blessed. So many of us don’t want to do anything, or you want to do something and you just don’t get the courage to do it. My boys, they’re living a dream.”