Ian Scott’s contributions to sports in Alachua County, both at a high school and collegiate level, stand above those of many others.
He was Gainesville High School’s valedictorian in 2000 and was a member of the school’s back-to-back state champion basketball teams in 1999 and 2000. He was also an SEC champion and All-SEC defensive lineman for the Florida Gators’ football program before becoming an NFL Draft pick.
And now, he looks to contribute more as the head varsity football coach for the Hurricanes.
The school announced via Twitter on Wednesday that Scott had been hired as the school’s varsity head football coach after a nearly fourth-month-long coaching search. The school formally introduced Scott on Thursday at an introductory press conference at Gainesville High School.
“It’s a great day to be a Hurricane,” Principal Daniel Ferguson said in his opening remarks. “… [Scott’s] excelled at everything. But what’s most impressed me about Coach Scott is his deep conviction and high moral character. He’s certainly a man that parents would want their child to be around to help mold them into a successful adult on and off the field.”
Scott explained that coming back to the school was something he and his family had dreamed of, but the timing hadn’t been right.
“The timing that things work out is sometimes funny, but we’re definitely in the place that we want to be in the right time that we want to be here,” Scott told the crowd of football players and staff. “So excited to be able to work with all the young people here and really bring the community right into what it means to be a Hurricane.”
Ferguson explained that Scott was at the top of the school’s candidate leaderboard during the head coaching search due to his experience, character and familiarity with the school.
“You’ll never find anyone with a better spirit around. So, obviously he was a top choice,” Ferguson said. “We were just lucky to have him. Just the way things line up. The stars aligned, and we have Ian Scott.”
Scott replaces Dock Pollard, who, after an 0-9 start to the 2022 season, announced he would resign at the conclusion of the season. In three seasons leading the Hurricanes, Pollard posted a 10-17 record, including an 8-3 finish in 2021 with a 6A District 4 championship.
The Hurricanes finished the 2022 season 0-10. Scott said he wants to focus on moving the program forward.
“All I know is that the record was not what we have come to expect at Gainesville High School. For me, it’s a blank slate,” Scott told his new team. “All of that’s going to be in the past. There’s going to be a blank slate from day one. Whatever we’re going to do is going to be focused on moving forward.”
Part of the struggle was a slew of veteran players transferring to other schools. Ferguson believes that hiring Scott will help keep players at Gainesville High School.
Additionally, Scott becomes Alachua County’s sixth head football coach to coach for the school they played for, joining Hawthorne’s Cornelius Ingram, Newberry’s Ed Johnson, Santa Fe’s Joe Szymanski, Eastside’s Harold “Gator” Hoskins and Buchholz’s Chuck Bell.
“There’s a comfort level with being where you are, the halls that you walked in,” he said. “To me, there’s a care and understanding about the environment and the culture that is unique for you.”
Scott brings not only playing experience at the highest level but also coaching experience at the collegiate level.
Most recently, Scott coached the defensive line at Central Michigan as a part of former UF head coach Jim McElwain’s staff. He held the position in 2021 and 2022 after assistant coaching UCF’s defensive line from 2018 until 2021. Scott also coached at UF as a graduate assistant under McElwain in 2017.
“I did lots of research on him, and it was amazing,” said Mason Zwilling, the Hurricanes’ starting quarterback in 2022. “I’ve seen his background and the things he’s done in football. I know the discipline level he’s brought down from the college level, he’s definitely going to bring it down to our level and do great things.”
In a three-year playing career at Florida, Scott helped win an SEC title his freshman season in 2000 under Steve Spurrier. He followed that up by being named Second Team All-SEC in 2001 and 2002.
After forgoing his final season of eligibility, Scott entered the 2003 NFL Draft and was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears and started at defensive tackle in the Bears’ Super Bowl XLI loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
To Scott, his accolades and accomplishments are irrelevant going forward. His focus will be on the high school players he will coach.
“It’s not going to be about me and what I did 23, 24 years ago. It’s about what you guys do every single day,” Scott told the players.
Off the field, he wants his players to succeed in the classroom first by having a 2.3 core GPA, which would make a player eligible to be recruited by a college or university. On the field, he said he plans to work with his players’ strengths.
“I like the way he says about how you play for yourself,” Zwilling said. “…He wants us to play who we are and have our own personalities out on the field instead of trying to change who we are.”
Scott will officially begin work at the school next week, he said. The team is currently in the middle of offseason lifting. High school football programs cannot officially begin spring practices until May 1 under state rules.