Coming out of Trinity High School, there wasn’t a lot of need for a 5-foot-9 wide receiver who didn’t have blazing speed or put up amazing numbers. So Scott Radcliff didn’t have schools beating down his door to offer him a Division I scholarship.
Not feeling defeated, Radcliff decided he was good enough to play Division I football and walked-on at the University of Louisville. He immediately showed the type of impact he was going to have the first time he stepped on the field. He caught every pass thrown in his general direction and wasn’t afraid to go over the middle to make a play.
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told the media after the Spring Game on Saturday that everyone needs a Scott Radcliff on their football team after his nine-catch performance in the game. That’s quite a compliment for any player, but for a former walk-on, its extra special to be considered so valuable.
“I was shocked to hear coach Watson say that,” said Radcliff. “It put a big smile on my face. As a player, it made me feel like I accomplished something. You want to keep going and that you have the coach’s trust. The coaches say I work hard. I come to work every day and make plays. I’m not the most athletic or fastest, but I get open and do what the coaches want me to do.”
Radcliff was one of the main targets in the game Saturday and made the most of his opportunity, showing the staff and the fans that the Cardinals have another weapon in their arsenal.
“During the game, people kept asking me how many catches I had on Saturday, and I said, hopefully 10. I was going for 10. I found out the next day I had nine. Any other receiver on our team could have done that. We have a lot of depth. If Eli (Rogers) was in that spot, he could have made those plays. That’s the the great thing about us and our receivers. We have a lot of depth and a lot of talent there.”
Because of his size, Radcliff is compared to the New England Patriots’ miniature wide receiver in Wes Welker, a slot receiver, who isn’t very big or athletic, but has been one of the top pass catchers in the National Football League.
“I get that a lot,” said Radcliff. “It’s an honor to be mentioned with him (Welker). I definitely watch him all the time. I love watching the Patriots with Deion Branch. Their offense is awesome. To be compared to Wes Welker is an honor. I like to watch him and some of the routes he runs from the slot. He has a knack for getting open and making plays.”
For the first two years, Radcliff was a walk-on before he ended up earning a scholarship from head coach Charlie Strong. Radcliff hasn’t put up huge numbers in his first three seasons. He caught two passes in his first two seasons, but expanded his role as junior with eight receptions for 83 yards and a pair of scores.
Radcliff has waited his turn and contributed when needed, but could be on the verge of big things as he enters his senior season. He knows the offense hinges on the development of sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and Radcliff sees how far along Bridgewater has come in a year.
“Teddy is great,” said Radcliff. “He is learning the offense. Teddy knows everything that’s going on. He doesn’t make any mistakes. I don’t think he has thrown any interceptions in any of the three scrimmages that we have had this spring. He knows exactly where to put the ball and where to throw it.”
As the spring comes to a close, the Cardinals are in a new position – they are the favorites to win the BIG EAST crown, which is different from previous years.
“We know the expectations are high,” said the former Trinity Shamrock. “We have a chance to be a great team. We have a lot of young talent coming in, too. It’s going to be a great time. We have a lot of great players in this program. The best thing about it is we have a lot of depth. When you have a lot of depth, you have a lot of great position battles.”