Jim Scott is from your typical small town in Nebraska. Ansley, Neb., has a population of around 500 in Custer County and is roughly 20 miles from Broken Bow.
Scott attended Ansley High School and played eight-man football. He was a Class D all-state selection and starred at center and nose guard.
“We had a pretty good football program at Ansley during those years and either won state or were runner-up state champion,” Scott said. “I won a state championship during my junior year; the other three years we were runner-up.”
Scott also was a pretty good track & field guy. He won the Class D shot put title and set the Class D record in the discus.
He was recruited by some small in-state schools and decided to attend the University of Nebraska Kearney out of high school. “I never received full-ride scholarship offers, just partial ones, so I went to Kearney and threw shot/discus for their track team.”
During the holiday break in his freshman year, Scott was phoned by Dan Moore, his high school football coach. Moore said he was contacted by the Nebraska football coaching staff to see if he had or knew of anybody that could play there.
Moore mentioned Scott’s name, but that he was already enrolled at Kearney. So Nebraska called Kearney in order to get a release so they could talk to Scott.
“Coach Moore said a lot of good things about me, and what they saw on tape I think caused them to want to get into contact with me about a walk-on position. I went up there [Lincoln] for a weekend, toured the facilities and talked to the coaches,” Scott said. “They asked me if I would walk-on the next year. I was surprised they contacted me…it is every Nebraska kid’s dream to play for the Huskers, so when that happened it was something special.”
Scott followed former Ansley product Ken Kaelin, who also walked on and lettered at fullback for the Huskers from 1984-86.
“I had no idea what position I was going to be playing, so that next fall they put me in the offensive line meetings and it just went on from there,” Scott said. “I had to sit out my first year because of transfer requirements, and redshirted in 1989.”
Like other walk-ons who were living a dream playing for the Big Red, Scott had to prove himself and compete against the highly regarded scholarship recruits NU brought in each year.
“The Nebraska kids live and die Nebraska football growing up, while these scholarship recruits from around the country are not that way,” Scott explained. “When the freshman walk-ons and freshman scholarship players report, the work ethic from the walk-ons was better. The scholarship players saw that and eventually started to work harder.
“Those walk-ons pushed those scholarship players every day and made them better players. There were a lot of walk-ons that didn’t get to play on Saturday, but they really pushed the scholarship players to the max.”
Scott methodically rose up the depth chart at center in a reserve role, playing mostly on special teams in 1990, and then in 1991, he helped take over the center position from graduating starter David Edeal. He split time with Bill Ziegelbein and rotated games and series for the Big Eight champions Huskers.
As a senior in 1992, Scott was voted a team captain along with William Washington, John Parrella and Travis Hill.
“I led by example. I wasn’t the rah-rah guy that is going to stand up and give a big speech and yell. I gave 100% in practice and in games and never complained. Leading by example and hard work pays off.”
Scott started at center in every game that season, and was one of three former high school eight-man offensive linemen who started for the Huskers that year. Lance Lundberg and Ken Mehlin teamed with Scott.
“Even though Lundberg was a scholarship recruit, he was from Nebraska and knew the tradition and what Nebraska football was all about. Four of the five starting offensive linemen that 1992 season were from Nebraska. Zach Wiegert was the fourth and was from Fremont.”
The lone out-of-state starter was Will Shields, from Lawton, Okla.
“Will made me such a better football player, and all the awards I got was because of him lining up beside me,” Scott said. “He made my job easier. Even though he was from Oklahoma, he had good Nebraska values. He is just a down-to-earth, great person.”
From 1990 to 1992, Nebraska played musical chairs at the quarterback position. Mickey Joseph, Keithen McCant, Mike Grant and Tommie Frazier all started at quarterback during that time, making it hard for NU to develop continuity on offense.
“It wasn’t difficult for me, because you put in plenty of time during practice to get used to whichever quarterback you will be working with during the games,” Scott said. “The difficult part for the team was not having the same starting quarterback those three years.”
But each of those quarterbacks had the talent to lead and execute the Husker offense. Scott said that each one of those quarterbacks had different skill sets they could bring to the table to benefit the offense.
“Mickey Joseph was very athletic and quick, but wasn’t a passer,” Scott explained. “Then you had Keithen McCant, who was more of a passing quarterback but still had running skills to run the option. Keithen was one that I think surprised everyone. He wasn’t even expected to start that 1991 season, and came in and had a great year.
“Mike Grant had a lot of pressure on him. He was expected to be the next great quarterback when he came to Nebraska. He also dealt with a lot of injuries that set him back. Then of course Tommie (Frazier), we all know what he accomplished. He had the athletic ability to run the option and run the passing game, but he also displayed the leadership skills as a true freshman in 1992.”
During those years, Nebraska was undergoing a change in recruiting philosophy and changes in its defense and offense in order to compete against teams like Miami and Florida State in the bowl games.
“I never experienced the national championship run that took place after I left, but I always say that I was there to prepare for that,” Scott said. “We were on the verge of it my senior year in 1992. I felt we were headed the right way.
“We went to more speed on defense with linebackers that could run. We changed some blocking schemes on offense; it was more of zone blocking. The changes just had to take a few years to take place before they started winning championships.”
After graduating from NU, Scott tried his hand at professional football, signing as a free agent with the Chicago Bears. “I went to some mini-camps and was asked to go on to the fall camp, but I backed out…I was burned out and tired of football.”
So Scott got into the banking business, and is currently the vice president of the Bank of Broken Bow. He is married and has three daughters: a sophomore in high school and a set of twins who are third-graders.
Being from Ansley, Scott is appreciative of the support he received from his hometown during his playing days at Nebraska.
“Any small town is a great backer of its student-athletes, and Ansley was no different. Nebraska people live and die Nebraska football. When they had Jim Scott Day during my senior year, I think they had over 500 people from Custer County who purchased tickets to come to the game.”
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Shane Gilster is the Editor of Big Red Report Magazine. His stories focus mainly on catching up with former Huskers and examining Nebraska athletic history.