Matt Scott is in a better place heading into his fifth college season, even if he hardly recognizes it anymore.
"It's all just different, man," the Arizona Wildcats' quarterback said with a chuckle. "When I come to school, it doesn't even feel the same."
There are new surroundings, from the UA's revamped practice fields to the construction of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on Arizona Stadium's north side. New coaches - Rich Rodriguez was hired in November to jump-start a stale offense - and a fresh scheme have changed Scott's routine.
But perspective plays a part, too.
Scott will open training camp Thursday as the UA's starting quarterback and the team's best hope for making a bowl game. It's the last chance for Scott, who spent two seasons (2009-10) as Nick Foles' backup before opting to redshirt as a senior a year ago.
His timing couldn't have been better.
Rodriguez was hired to replace Mike Stoops last November and instantly named Scott - a dual-threat quarterback - as his top offensive threat. Scott will take the majority of practice snaps with the first team, though he won't be hit in practices. He's too valuable, Rodriguez said, to risk an injury.
"Matt should be the healthiest guy in the facility," he said.
The Star talked to Scott, 21, about his career, ascent to starter and his expectations heading into the 2012 season:
When you decided to redshirt last season, could you have imagined that there'd be a coaching change - and that the new offense would fit your skill set so well?
A: "It was weird. When (offensive coordinator) Sonny Dykes left (in 2010), that's when I was thinking we were going to get a whole new offense. It switched up from there, and then everybody left. I couldn't ask for anything more. This is the kind of offense that fits me, and I can really thrive in it."
How many times did you think about transferring over the last three years?
A: "There were a couple moments in time with my four-year career - probably after my sophomore year and junior year - when I thought about leaving. I'm happy I didn't. I learned from it. I grew from it, and I'm in a great position now because of it."
What kept you here?
A: "I don't know. It just felt right. I committed to Arizona for a reason. I felt like it was the place for me; even now, I still do. … It's probably the greatest four years of my life. I wouldn't take it back for anything."
What did your parents say?
A: "'We want you to leave.' I said, 'No, I'm good.' After the (2009) Holiday Bowl and the (2010) Alamo Bowl, they were like, 'Hey, you need to get out of there.' I thought about skipping that next year, redshirting, and playing the following year. … I really didn't talk to any places myself - there were a couple schools here and there that my high school coach talked to."
How did the struggles change you?
A: "It's made me a different person. It was a humbling experience for me the year when I lost my job my sophomore year, and then being behind Nick (Foles) for two years, it was even worse. I learned from that, I learned from my mistakes. I'll never do that again. I lost something I should've had, and really wanted to have."
What went wrong?
A: "I wasn't preparing myself like I should've been - film study, knowing where to go to the ball, coverages, everything. … I learned from that, and I promise you I'll be the most prepared guy on the field every game."
Do you and Foles talk?
A: "He texted me the other day to wish me luck and stuff, and he said he was excited to watch me play this season. He was a great kid, a great guy. I learned a lot from him on and off the field. He's a great leader. He's a great person, actually."
Was it tough to compete against a guy who was so well-liked?
A: "I guess you can say that - like a Tim Tebow situation? We'll see how the Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow thing works its way out. It's tough because everybody likes the guy. It's hard to hate the guy. He was obviously my enemy and obviously who I was competing against, but at the same time, I had the camaraderie with him. … Even when Nick made mistakes, I'd come to the sidelines, be there for him, and say let's go get the next one. It might have been hard for some other people, not for me."
So, basically, things worked out for a reason?
A: "I came here for a reason, then I felt like I couldn't leave. It worked out for me."