Features | Friday Night Drive

St. Ignatius’ Justin Scott keeps head down, continues growth despite attention, high rankings

St. Ignatius sophomore Justin Scott, center, pushes past De La Salle's offensive line on Oct. 1. Scott has 12 collegiate scholarship offers.

It’s hard not to see or feel Justin Scott’s presence on a football field.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound St. Ignatius lineman made himself known during the first three plays of a July practice when the Wolfpack first-team defense faced off against the scout defense. Scott tore through the offensive line each time and reached the quarterback or running back quickly to end each play.

“Let the offense throw,” a coach yelled out in the distance as Scott and his teammates celebrated, jogging off the field to let the second team defense practice.

“He’s done some things in camp that we just haven’t seen,” St. Ignatius head coach Matt Miller said.

Scott hasn’t only impressed St. Ignatius coaches but college coaches across the country, which has earned him 23 scholarship offers as he continues to become better each day. Top programs like Notre Dame, LSU, USC, Oklahoma and Michigan headline a list of 20 Power Five schools who have already offered.

247Sports Composite gave Scott a five-star rating, ranking him as the best Class of 2024 prospect in the state, the third best at defensive lineman and the 28th overall prospect in the country. Rivals awarded the junior a four-star rating, No. 1 overall in Illinois and at his position and 12th overall in the country.

Scott isn’t letting all the attention get to his head. He knows he still has a lot to work on as a prospect and is far from a complete player.

“I just need to keep acting like I’m underrated,” Scott said. “I can’t let my head get too high. When you get your head too high, you get beat up, your self esteem will go down. Really just keep your head down and keep playing.”

St. Ignatius will use Scott on both sides of the ball this season after he only played defensive line last year. The junior is still trying to understand the difference in technique and the type of blocks he’ll have to use on the different sides of the line but is learning quickly.

Senior running back and linebacker Vinny Rugai has enjoyed watching Scott’s growth and reaping the benefits of opponents paying attention to Scott. The junior has created holes in games on the defensive side of the ball that have helped Rugai excel as a linebacker and has enjoyed the offensive holes Scott has created during practice while he runs the ball.

“It’s great,” Rugai said. “He’s really improved from last year and he’s been working his butt off in the weight room and in the classroom too. He’s a good guy to have on the team.”

Scott hasn’t stopped trying to learn more about football ever since he started playing in high school. The junior spent the summer working out in the weight room and working on his technique.

He doesn’t want to take his size and athleticism for granted, so he pays attention to the fine details in order to reach his potential. Miller has noticed how Scott asks smart questions in practice and pays attention in order to grow instead of asking any question to make it seem like he cares.

Miller knows Scott will continue to tear through offensive lines and play at the next level if he continues to show growth.

“He wants to learn and get better,” Miller said. “That’s seen on both sides of the ball and he’ll get there. It’s crazy to think of the ceiling, with all the tangibles and measurables, as he starts to get the technique, he’s going to be very good.”