When the New York Giants selected Virginia Tech running back David Wilson in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, Henry Racich incorporated extra motivation into Da'Rel Scott's workouts.
Scott was the Giants' seventh-round pick a year earlier after totaling more than 2,400 rushing yards in four years at Maryland. Racich, a boxing instructor in Conshohocken and one of Scott's trainers, blasted the Hokies fight song as a reminder of the ongoing competition for playing time while Scott pummeled away at the heavy bag in Racich's gym.
"He used to get mad," Racich said. "I've never seen him hit the bag so hard when that song came on."
Scott's quest to make an impact in New York's ground game continues as the Giants begin training camp on July 26 and he enters his third season in the NFL.
The 25-year-old Plymouth Whitemarsh High graduate has just 25 rushing yards and a fumble on 11 attempts in his first two seasons. A torn meniscus in his right knee that required surgery sidelined Scott for most of last year, setting him back even further.
Wilson and fourth-year back Andre Brown likely will battle for the starting job. But with a healthy knee, Scott is ready to fight for a spot among the Giants backups, who include veteran Ryan Torain and rookie Michael Cox.
"It's wide open here . . .," Scott said. "It should be good competition, and I'm ready to just go."
Time for Scott to do so may be running short, though, as memories of him darting through and around Atlantic Coast Conference defenses in College Park, Md., become fuzzier with each passing year.
"The NFL is a business. Everybody's been the man," said Rodney Cline, a personal trainer and Scott's longtime mentor. "Now his mind-set is, 'Look, I have to prove it. I'm not talking about it. I need to prove it. And that starts in the offseason, doing the things I need to do.' "
Sitting at home, watching his teammates on TV last year while he recovered from knee surgery was a painfully frustrating period for Scott. In hoping to never experience that again, he set out this summer to make sure his knee and his body were ready for the physical beating that is life as a pro running back.
In addition to his standard workouts, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Scott has taken up yoga to improve his flexibility, and he spars with Racich a few days a week. Racich, who has worked with a handful of NBA players including Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala, said boxing is ideal for athletes cross-training because it improves balance, footwork, and hand-eye coordination while having a low impact on their joints.
"I've always had that work ethic, but you can tell the difference now. It's like I'm on a mission," said Scott, who grew up in Conshohocken. "I'm ready to get that spot."
Though playing time has been hard to come by, Scott was a Giant in the 2011 season when the team won the Super Bowl, and he draws motivation from the desire to get fitted for a second ring.That's especially true this season, when Super Bowl XLVIII will be played in the Giants' home, MetLife Stadium.
"I just need to get my opportunity and make the most of it," Scott said. "And pray to God that he has my side and I'm in the right position at the right time."
But, as Racich noted, only Scott controls how this year will play out.
"Although a lot is in God's hands, the football's not," Racich said. "So he'll have to put it in his hands and run with it."