Occidental football alumni Bryan Scott ’16 signs as quarterback with the USFL Philadelphia Stars

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Photo courtesy of Bryan Scott

Former Occidental football player Bryan Scott ’16 recently signed with the Philadelphia Stars, one of eight United States Football League (USFL) teams, as their first round draft pick quarterback. During his time at Occidental, Scott was the starting quarterback for the Tigers for three and a half years, and a captain during his junior and senior years, according to former Occidental football head coach, Doug Semones.

Scott said he has been involved in football since high school. Semones, who coached for Occidental from 2013 to 2016, unexpectedly found Scott during a high school All Star showcase in Redondo Beach, and was impressed by his ability to throw the ball. After asking around, Semones said he found out that Scott had no plans to play football in college, and began pursuing Scott as a recruit then and there.

“I asked around in the stands, you know, ‘Who’s that kid, where’s he going to school?” Semones said. “And they said ‘He’s not gonna play college football. I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’ I invited him to come up to Oxy and started recruiting him.”

Semones said Scott’s ability to be there for his teammates no matter what was his best quality. According to Semones, this created a dynamic of unity and brotherhood also known as “the foxhole.” Originally a military term to describe a pit in which soldiers take shelter from enemy fire, “foxhole” has been adapted by football players to signify an atmosphere of trust and reliability.

“Bryan really promoted [foxhole culture] and lived it,” Semones said. “He’s a very unselfish guy, he doesn’t have a huge ego. He just wanted to win, and he wanted to make players around him better.”

After graduating, Scott said he continued his football career by entering training camps for National Football League (NFL) teams.

“After my senior year at Oxy, I was lucky to get a training camp with the Los Angeles Rams, which was an extremely cool opportunity for me,” Scott said. “Coming from Oxy and a small school in LA, it was truly a blessing to be able to go to make it to the NFL.”

Following his time at the LA Rams training camp, Scott said he played for the Spring League in 2018, where he faced big-time NFL opponents like Johnny Manziel. Scott won MVP in the Spring League, and finished the season undefeated. During this time, Scott played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.

“That was kind of an eye opener for me,” Scott said. “Coming from where I come from, being a Division III athlete, you’re never really quite sure how you’re going to go up against a guy who’s won the Heisman and has a million followers on Instagram.”

Following the 2018 season, Scott was faced with the decision on whether he would continue to play football, or if he had accomplished everything he had hoped to. After taking a break during 2019, he joined The Spring League (TSL) Generals in the spring of 2020, which was then being coached by Bart Andrus. Scott said Andrus was offered a head coaching job with the USFL following the Spring 2020 season, and that Scott would be Andrus’ first round draft pick.

The USFL, where Scott is now, was founded in the 1980s, but was discontinued after three seasons due to multiple instances of instability and disorganization. The USFL was ultimately suspended in 1986 with the hope to return in 1987, but it instead disbanded after a rejected settlement. The USFL makes its return in April 2022, with Scott as one of the quarterbacks for the Philadelphia Stars.

Scott said the day of the USFL draft felt surreal and exciting, and that a number of former teammates reached out to congratulate him.

“My phone was gonna break the night of the draft, it was just going crazy,” Scott said. “I want to represent all the athletes out there that deserve these type of opportunities or that should feel proud to have played in college at the level that they did.”

Scott’s former teammates and coaches also spoke to how monumental and exciting his signing to the USFL was, both for Scott personally, and for Division III football as a whole. Darnell Arceneaux, former Occidental offensive coordinator and quarterback coach from 2013 to 2016, said that Scott was the epitome of what a leader should strive to be, and was a force on the field.

“There’s a lot of players that don’t want that smoke, where they don’t want the pressure,” Arceneaux said. “They don’t want to be the guy. Bryan always wanted the ball in his hands and felt like he could be that guy and that factor to lead us to a win.”

Arceneaux said that Scott was always someone the program could count on, whether it was being on time, staying after practice for more reps or showing football recruits around campus.

“He exemplified what a true Occidental Tiger is because he went out far beyond to do his due diligence to give back to a great school,” Arceneaux said. “Those are the other reasons why he’s gonna succeed, because he’s willing to give and not always just take and take.”

Dylan Tedford ’16, Scott’s former teammate, said the family culture and dynamic of the Occidental football program could be attributed to Semones’ foxhole culture.

“Any of us that you call on at a moment’s notice, foxhole guys, are there for you,” Tedford said. “The most important thing to Bryan was that he was always there for everybody. He was always everybody’s guy.”

Tedford also said Scott helped encourage others to work harder and be excited about the program and its progress, often getting to 6 a.m. practices early to throw the ball around before official practice started, and staying late after to re-watch game footage and strategize.

“Occidental still feels like home to me,” Tedford said. “And a big part of that is because of Bryan Scott.”

Ian Bonde ’18, another former teammate, said it was rare but thrilling to watch Scott enter the pro football industry from a small Division III institution.

“Most people aren’t playing Division III sports to go pro,” Bonde said. “Yes, some guys obviously have that dream and they’re super competitive and all, but most guys don’t go pro. So it’s cool.”

Kaleb Mitchell ’16, another teammate of Scott’s during his five-season career at Occidental, said he was also not surprised to see Scott sign to the USFL.

“I definitely believe that if anybody could do it, it was him,” Mitchell said. “He definitely had the drive and the passion to continue his career. You know, [I] rooted for him since day one to make it and just continued to back him and hope he gets every opportunity he deserves.”

Both Mitchell and Bonde said they still keep in touch with Scott and other former teammates. Mitchell said he texted Scott the day of the draft and said it was an awesome opportunity to get to watch a former teammate achieve something so great.

“No matter how bad it’s getting, we have each other’s backs,” Mitchell said. “You can always count on a teammate or a friend to stick right with you, no matter what. We’re not pointing blame or anything like that, we’re in it together. And we’ll do it together.”

Above all, Scott said the most important thing for him going in to his first USFL season was to represent Occidental and the SCIAC with pride.

“I don’t want people to feel like they went Division III and it’s like, ‘I’m not as good,'” Scott said. “I want them to feel proud and, you know, to be honored to be a student athlete. I mean, it’s really just about how you feel about yourself and what you believe to be in yourself.”