Mentor helps create route for former Central High player

Oregon receiver Terence Scott tries to elude a Boise State defender during the Ducks’ 37-32 home loss on Sep. 20. Scott had three catches for 45 yards in the game.

Photo by Bruce Ely, The Oregonian

Oregon receiver Terence Scott tries to elude a Boise State defender during the Ducks’ 37-32 home loss on Sep. 20. Scott had three catches for 45 yards in the game.

Oregon wide receiver Terence Scott runs for yardage after making a catch during a game this season. The former Central High School standout is leading the Ducks with 626 receiving yards.

Photo by Eric Evans

Oregon wide receiver Terence Scott runs for yardage after making a catch during a game this season. The former Central High School standout is leading the Ducks with 626 receiving yards.

Terence Scott pulls in a reception for Central in October of 2004.

Photo by Special to the News Sentinel

Terence Scott pulls in a reception for Central in October of 2004.

Oregon receiver Terence Scott tries to elude a Boise State defender during the Ducks’ 37-32 home loss on Sep. 20. Scott had three catches for 45 yards in the game.

Photo by Bruce Ely

Oregon receiver Terence Scott tries to elude a Boise State defender during the Ducks’ 37-32 home loss on Sep. 20. Scott had three catches for 45 yards in the game.

Terence Scott poses for a picture after hiking to the top of the Chimneys with Steve Kruger during the summer of 1998. Kruger served as Scott’s Big Brother.

Photo by Special to the News Sentinel

Terence Scott poses for a picture after hiking to the top of the Chimneys with Steve Kruger during the summer of 1998. Kruger served as Scott’s Big Brother.

Terence Scott and Steve Kruger picnic in Cades Cove in 1998.

Photo by Special to the News Sentinel

Terence Scott and Steve Kruger picnic in Cades Cove in 1998.

Steve Kruger celebrates his 27th birthday in 1997 with some
help from Terence Scott.

Photo by Special to the News Sentinel

Steve Kruger celebrates his 27th birthday in 1997 with some help from Terence Scott.

EUGENE, Ore. - As Terence Scott ran down the tunnel and onto the field for his senior-day game at the University of Oregon on Nov. 15, a flood of memories came back to him.

Thousands of fans at Autzen Stadium cheered for the Ducks as they prepared to take on Arizona, but Scott could only think back to every person who ever doubted he would get to this point.

Scott, a senior receiver, will play his final game for the Ducks on Tuesday in the Holiday Bowl against Oklahoma State. And if it weren't for a lifelong mentor, Scott might never have made it.

Enter Steve Kruger

Terence Scott was 8 years old the first time he met Steve Kruger, then a student at the University of Tennessee. Scott, who grew up in Knoxville and played high school football at Central, was being raised by his mom and four sisters. His mother, Terri Robinson, says she needed someone to teach her son "how to become a man."

Sensing the need for a male influence, Robinson signed up Scott for the Big Brothers program, a national organization designed to pair children with mentors who will provide positive influence. Kruger, now 38, had benefited from a Big Brother relationship when he was young, and wanted to give back.

"My mother did an amazing job raising me," the 22-year-old Scott said. "She used to tell me when I was younger that she's my mother and she's my father, but there were just some male things she couldn't teach me. I give her all the credit for (being) willing go … find a male role model."

Their first meeting took place at a McDonald's. Scott doesn't remember much of what happened at the restaurant, but he does remember the conversation he had with Kruger as he got out of the car.

"Will I get to see you again?" asked Scott, happy to have found a new friend but wondering if Kruger would stick around. Kruger assured Scott he would see him again, and made plans for the following week.

From there, they were inseparable. Scott would call Kruger early in the mornings when they were supposed to hang out to make sure the play date was still on. Even when Kruger couldn't spend time with Scott, he made sure Scott wasn't alone.

"One year when Terence was much younger, Steve went on a tour (in Europe) and he was gone for six weeks," Robinson said, "and the whole six weeks he was gone he made sure someone came there each week and spend time with Terence. Steve's incredible."

Detour but determined

Kruger's relationship with Scott continued into high school, when Kruger helped Scott through one of the tougher times in his life.

By his senior year, Scott was a standout receiver for Central. Marshall University was set to sign Scott but at the last minute backed out, in part because of Scott's grades. Devastated, Scott went to Kruger's house.

"In my mind I was making the turns to go to school, but when I looked up, I was parked in front of his driveway," Scott said. "When I got there, he held me and we both just cried."

Added Kruger: "I don't think I felt as bad as Terence did that day but I felt worse than anyone else could."

It was hardly the first time Scott had faced adversity.

In high school, a guidance counselor told Scott he "wasn't college material." Kruger didn't believe it for a second, instead telling Scott he would go to college, and that he believed Scott could achieve anything.

After Marshall fell through, Kruger helped Scott get in touch with coaches at College of the Canyons, a junior college in California. Kruger then loaned Scott his car for the drive out to Valencia, and flew out to help him get settled. When it was finally time for Kruger to head back to Knoxville, the friends struggled to hold in their emotions.

"I packed all my stuff up and I walked out of the hotel room, turned around to give him a hug and if anyone had walked past us, they would have thought something was up," Scott recalled laughing. "Here I am with my luggage, Steve's still in his boxers, we're hugging each other and just crying, crying, crying."

After a few weeks, Scott called Kruger homesick and crying. Kruger told Scott he could come home if he wanted, but he would regret it. He also told Scott if he tried to leave, Kruger would call the cops and say Scott had stolen his car.

"Now that I look back on it I realize it was mean," Scott said, "but I never left because I was afraid the police were going to pull me over."

Great Scott

Scott fought through the bout of homesickness, and it paid off. He led the Cougars in receiving both seasons, with 65 receptions for 995 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2006.

He signed with Oregon and injuries to the Ducks forced Scott to burn his redshirt season in 2007.

This season Scott has done his part to help Oregon to a 9-3 record, leading the Ducks with 626 receiving yards.

At Scott's senior-day game against Arizona six weeks ago, Kruger finally saw what all their hard work had done.

Kruger said sitting out on the field for his senior-day game was "overwhelming."

"I'm sitting there looking at him thinking, 'Don't you start crying because I'll start crying and I've got the camera in my face. I'm not about to let 50,000 people see me cry.' " Scott said.

Robinson says Kruger's influence on her family's life has been profound, and that she knows it will continue for years to come.

"They've been great together," Robinson said. "They're closer today than they ever were. Steve has went far and beyond. He's a part of our family and will be for the rest of our life."

But perhaps the greatest indicator of Kruger's impact on Scott is this: Scott, who many doubted would ever make it in college, will graduate next year with a degree in sociology.

"There's nothing he'll do on a football field that will impress me half as much as what he does in the classroom because nobody ever game him the credit that he could succeed in the classroom," Kruger said. "He couldn't read when I first met him. But time after time, he's overcome everything people have put in his path."

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Comments » 26

pkaplan writes:

Yes, folks. I know Terence Scott does not play for the Vols or an SEC team. However, it's a great read that will bring a tear or two to some. Hey, it's Christmas.

Phil Kaplan
Deputy sports editor

allvol9 writes:

Fantastic story...we need more people and stories like this. Thanks for the story!

newtonrail writes:

Good read Mr. Kaplan. Don't let these folks get to you who post some inane remark when article is about former Vol, Historical stories, etc. Most of us enjoy them. And those that don't--well, they don't have to read them.

VOLorado writes:

Great Story.... should ALSO appear in OR paper

samjrr writes:

Great story!

JohnyLobo34 writes:

That's a great story & deserves to be posted There's a Tennessee connection; but more importantly there's a lesson here in selflessness! Way to go Terrence & Steve.

MidTennVol writes:

Terrific story...that's what it's all about, folks. Scott may not play on Sundays but this story is about something much, much bigger than college football.

MARLON BROWN, HOPE YOU READ THIS STORY. IT AIN'T ALL ABOUT YOU.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Quality.

TwigInOrange writes:

A great read. A good story that demonstrates that we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of race. I admire Terri, Terrance and Steve, all for different reasons.

richvol writes:

Steve Kruger is a genuine hero in a society that claims there are none. The business and elected leaders that have filled the news with their legacy of greed and me,me,me, are nothing compared to this man. He should be recognized for this by the national press and our government.

Thanks for telling this story because what I see from the news on a daily basis about our investment houses,bankers,corporate CEO's and politicians sickens me with worry about the future of this country.

GerryOP writes:

Right Phil, great read.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Great story.

Wonder is that "stolen car" angle would keep grown kids from ever moving back home?

Probably not.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

He has twice as many yards as our leading receiver. Thanks for recruiting him, Foolmore.

MidTennVol writes:

in response to WorkinLikeHeck:

He has twice as many yards as our leading receiver. Thanks for recruiting him, Foolmore.

Even on a terrific, inspiring, uplifting story like this, there's always at least one like you.

Vol43 writes:

great!

Jediphysics writes:

in response to newtonrail:

Good read Mr. Kaplan. Don't let these folks get to you who post some inane remark when article is about former Vol, Historical stories, etc. Most of us enjoy them. And those that don't--well, they don't have to read them.

I second newtonrail... the "silent majority" just don't post in their thanks. As for me, a Central alum and classmate of Todd Helton's, any news about former Bobcats, especially ones who have succeeded at Scott's level, is much appreciated.

gohawks1 writes:

Wonderful story! In a day when the news media prints every negative story that comes along, it's refreshing to see these kinds of stories for a change. Would love to see more.....

SteveKruger writes:

in response to WorkinLikeHeck:

He has twice as many yards as our leading receiver. Thanks for recruiting him, Foolmore.

Just to set the record straight, because I hear a lot of misinformation on the topic. UT was very interested in Terence out of high school, but knew he was academically ineligible. One of their assistants, Greg Adkins, was very helpful and instrumental in helping us find the right junior college. The year Terence came out of juco, TN signed the #1 rated juco player at WR (Terence was #3). Hard to argue with that decision. I for one appreciate the job coach Fulmer did and wish to remember the '98 National Championship he won, which I enjoyed live at the Fiesta Bowl. Best of luck to all the people that were part of his staff that are now struggling during this holiday season to find jobs, plan for their futures, etc. I wish the best for all of you.

BillsBrother writes:

in response to SteveKruger:

Just to set the record straight, because I hear a lot of misinformation on the topic. UT was very interested in Terence out of high school, but knew he was academically ineligible. One of their assistants, Greg Adkins, was very helpful and instrumental in helping us find the right junior college. The year Terence came out of juco, TN signed the #1 rated juco player at WR (Terence was #3). Hard to argue with that decision. I for one appreciate the job coach Fulmer did and wish to remember the '98 National Championship he won, which I enjoyed live at the Fiesta Bowl. Best of luck to all the people that were part of his staff that are now struggling during this holiday season to find jobs, plan for their futures, etc. I wish the best for all of you.

Hey Steve! Welcome to GVX (Go Vols Xtra).

Thanks for the additional information. It does give a little more orange flavor to the story. And thank you for giving back to your community. I am certain that your positive influence on Terrence will multiply as he enters the adult world outside college football.

And don't worry too much about some of these posts. The regulars have learned that some of these guys could have used a Big Brother, too.

jsm67vol writes:

I wonder if the high school guidance counselor who told this kid he was "not college material" still has a job. Maybe it inspired Scott, but that seems to be a very reckless thing for someone in guidance counselor position to tell any kid. Great story, way to man up to the nay-sayers Terence!!

agarn writes:

Vol or not...he is a Tennessean and rose above adversity. Way to go and good luck in the future. Great story!

oldvolsfan writes:

even hiresanders would have to like this
you see God is still doing mericals

UTGal11 writes:

I've known Terence since elementary school. He's two years older than I am and was always involved in sports throughout all those years in school. He's a great kid and you would never see him without a big smile on his face. I can't believe I never knew this about him. He truly was a great inspiration to those kids at Central. What a great story for him, his family, and his friends. Great job Terence!

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

so we signed Kenny Oneal (#1 WR) who had off the field trouble at Florida State over a local kid (#3 WR) who clearly had a better career and was not a character risk? Again, thanks Foolmore. Good call.

SteveKruger writes:

You're still simplifying a complicated situation. O'Neal was able to transfer for the spring semester, something Terence could not do. That's a crucial factor in recruiting a juco player. Terence also would need some additional classes to be eligible to transfer to an SEC program. The Pac-10 has lower standards for juco transfers than the SEC. Terence's advisors at College of the Canyons always had him on a course to have the necessary credits to transfer to a Pac-10 program, because that's where the majority of their guys end up. LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn and South Carolina all showed interest and shied away for the same reasons. Not to mention Terence wanted to stay on the west coast anyway. He loves it out there!

Jediphysics writes:

in response to SteveKruger:

You're still simplifying a complicated situation. O'Neal was able to transfer for the spring semester, something Terence could not do. That's a crucial factor in recruiting a juco player. Terence also would need some additional classes to be eligible to transfer to an SEC program. The Pac-10 has lower standards for juco transfers than the SEC. Terence's advisors at College of the Canyons always had him on a course to have the necessary credits to transfer to a Pac-10 program, because that's where the majority of their guys end up. LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn and South Carolina all showed interest and shied away for the same reasons. Not to mention Terence wanted to stay on the west coast anyway. He loves it out there!

The story behind the story is so often not told... thanks for squelching ignorance and helping people understand that things are rarely as straightforward and obvious as they seem.

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