Scott delivering on the field for Hornets

Shenandoah University wide receiver Leonard Scott has nine catches for 127 yards and leads the Hornets with three touchdown grabs through three games this season. Photo courtesy of Shenandoah University

WINCHESTER – Before each one of Shenandoah University’s football games, sophomore wide receiver Leonard Scott approaches freshman quarterback Hayden Bauserman for what Scott refers to as a “brother-to-brother moment.”

By now Bauserman likely needs no such verification, but Scott takes that time to promise his quarterback that he’s got his back when the Hornets take the field.

“I can see that he trusts me and I don’t wanna make him feel bad about giving me that trust,” Scott said Wednesday afternoon. “I want to make the most out of that trust, make the most out of my opportunities.”

So far, the 6-foot, 185-pound speedster from Deerfield Beach, Florida, has delivered on his promises.

Through Shenandoah’s first three games this season, Scott has hauled in nine catches for 127 yards and three touchdowns, and has caught a scoring pass in all three contests.

Leonard Scott Shenandoah University

Part of Scott’s success can be attributed to the wealth of experience and talent distributed evenly throughout the Hornets’ offense, which is averaging 41 points and 462.3 yards per game. Shenandoah offensive coordinator Stan Hodgin said the value of an experienced offensive line providing time for Bauserman to make accurate throws, a talented running game and a deep pool of receivers can’t be overlooked in regard to Scott’s production early in 2015.

But Hodgin also noted that Scott’s mental approach has vastly improved from a season ago. Gone is the wide-eyed freshman that made his college football debut 1,000 miles from home in 2014, Hodgin said. This year, Scott is a receiver who is zeroed in on maximizing his role within the Hornets’ offense.

“I think Leonard understands his development into being a complete wide receiver is not just route running and catching the football and making plays after the catch, but it also includes being a decoy when called upon to do that, blocking when he is not getting the football,” Hodgin said. “I do think that Leonard has made some major strides in each of those areas.”

Scott’s receiving numbers this fall already nearly match his output from 2014, when he caught 12 passes for 143 yards, and his three touchdown catches are two more than he hauled in as a freshman.

Scott said when he first arrived at Shenandoah from Deerfield Beach High School – where he played as a slot receiver in a Wing-T offense – one of the biggest adjustments he faced was the up-tempo style of Hodgin’s spread scheme and the speed of opposing defenders.

Scott also was bumped from slot receiver back out wide upon his arrival at SU, although he said the transition was eased by the fact that he began his high school career as a wideout and ran a lot of deep routes in his time as a slot receiver.

“The main thing was instead of going against linebackers I’m going against (defensive backs), people who can match my speed and people who can actually run with me,” Scott said. “So I try to work more on my routes, getting separation because I can’t really rely on my speed that much on the outside because there are people that are just as fast as me now.”

To become a more complete receiver over the summer, Scott returned home and began working with personal trainer Kelcey Dudley, who was recommended to Scott by his former high school teammate and current University of Florida receiver Brandon Powell.

“He really helped me out with like my routes and my speed,” Scott said of Dudley. “His main model was, as a receiver you’re an illusionist. So that’s what the main thing we worked on, like making one route look like something else and creating separation, and using my speed to my advantage and stuff like that. Just small things we try to pick up on.”

Recruited by Hodgin as a receiver who could stretch the field, Scott, who also competes in the sprint events for Shenandoah’s track and field team and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds, said he’s most comfortable when he’s used as a deep-ball threat in Shenandoah’s rejuvenated passing game. However, Bauserman said Scott is more than a straight-line route runner.

“He can definitely take the top off of defenses,” said Bauserman, who has connected with Scott for touchdown passes of 26, 8 and 30 yards. “But he’s one of those guys, he’s a rare mix. He can do anything. He can run a slant route and pick up eight yards if he needs to or he can run by a defender and get 50.”

Bauserman wouldn’t go so far as to call Scott his “go-to guy” in the passing game – seven different players have at least three catches for the Hornets this season, including 10 each by Deshon Brown (151 yards, one touchdown) and tight end Miles Green (116 yards, one touchdown) – but Scott does lead Shenandoah with his three scoring grabs.

Both Bauserman and Scott said they’ve developed a strong rapport by staying after practice to throw some extra passes.

“I feel like that’s really important. I feel like (having) that chemistry and that brotherhood can really transfer on the field and make everything better,” Scott said. “So just knowing Hayden, knowing how he throws and him knowing me, he knows where to put the ball and knows what I’m able to do. I know what he’s able to do, where he can throw.”

Shenandoah, off to its first 3-0 start in program history, has a bye this week before hosting Bridgewater in the Hornets’ Homecoming game on Oct. 3 to begin Old Dominion Athletic Conference play.

“It’s kind of the theme for the week, the off week because we want to look at ourselves in an honest way and challenge ourselves to perform to what we are potentially,” Hodgin said. “… I think Leonard has taken hold of that thought and he does a really good job of challenging himself on a daily basis to be as good as he can possibly be.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com