Showing up at practice every day to be trampled, assaulted, oppressed and disfigured by the starting defense can become vexing after a while.
For that reason, the guys on our scout team offense invented a new tradition to take their minds off the abuse: scout team fantasy football.
These guys didn’t sit around in a circle and draft NFL players in hopes of vicariously earning points — they rack up their own points doing the grunt work at practice.
The scout team fantasy league was born last fall — a brainchild of tight end George George, wide receiver Willie Byrn and quarterback Trey Gresh. We’re only two weeks into the 2011 regular season, and the scout teamers are already salivating at the thought of starting the league up again.
“Sometimes scout team can get a little repetitive,” said E.L. Smiling, a wide receiver. “It can get boring, so we need something to add to the fun, spice it up a little bit. It gives you a little motivation. We’re all pretty competitive guys, so it gives you a little extra edge.”
League rules are far from simple.
When a quarterback throws a touchdown pass, he receives five points. If a receiver catches a touchdown, he gets three points. All standard receptions are worth one point, plus an additional point for every 10 yards gained.
Running backs earn one point for breaking a tackle, five for scoring and one point is added for every 10 rushing yards. Players keep track of their own points — strictly adhering to Virginia Tech Honor Code policy. The guy with the most points at the end of each day is dubbed champion — a title with a crown made only of bragging rights.
“We rubbed it in each other’s faces pretty aggressively,” George said. “We let each other know we were the best out there.”
Scout team fantasy league is about more than just wins and losses.
“It made it a lot more fun,” Gresh said. “You got to get to know people you wouldn’t necessarily get to know and talk to more.”
The position requiring the most mental toughness is the scout team quarterback. Day in, day out, he leads an offense destined for failure. Before every play, coaches show the scout team a card on which the blocking schemes and pass routes are depicted.
Regardless of whether a receiver is covered or open, the quarterback must throw to the receiver circled on the card. Due to this technicality, interceptions are a dime a dozen. Gresh came up with a rule to compensate for this issue.
“If I did not throw an interception by the end of the day, I got five extra points,” Gresh said.
After the guidelines were in place, the guys could just go out and play the game they grew up loving. For some players, fantasy league completely changed the way they approached practice.
“It made us want to be competitive with the starting defense,” George said. “Before, we just went out there, ran our routes and we didn’t really care if we did well or not. But we’re all pretty competitive, so once we started putting ourselves up against each other, we all started going a lot harder.”
Even graduate assistant coach Orion Martin, who runs the offensive scout team, noticed a difference.
“At first I wasn’t for it, but I saw how they were competing and it brought them together a little bit, so it was exciting and brought some fun to the scout team,” Martin said. “Guys were playing faster, guys were excited about going out there and making that big catch and watching it on film, so it brought a little fun and it brought a little enthusiasm out there.”
Offensive scout team players have one job to do: prepare the starting defense for Saturday’s opponent. Scout teamers weren’t the only ones that showed improvement after the fantasy league’s inauguration.
“It really stepped everybody’s game up and made the defense a little bit better,” George said.
Accustomed to flying under the radar, scout teamers reveled in the glory of the fantasy league — even if their notoriety remained amongst themselves. Certain players consistently rose to the top of the leaderboard.