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Darrell Scott joined the Colorado football program on national television 21 months ago. He left it Tuesday via a text message to coaches.
"I'm out," was his reply to a text message coach Dan Hawkins sent him in mid-afternoon after Scott was seen at the Dal Ward Center making several trips through the front doors carrying some of his belongings.
Internet rumors of a transfer to Southern Cal had tipped off coaches and fans Tuesday morning but coaches were unable to get in touch with Scott until Hawkins became involved.
Scott said he had planned to talk to coaches face to face about his decision today, but he received a text from Hawkins asking him if he was "in or out" of the program. It's not clear if he still plans to meet with coaches today.
Scott later confirmed he is leaving to join his uncle and former CU wide receiver, Josh Smith, with the Bruins. Smith transferred from CU last spring.
UCLA is becoming something of a wayward home for former Buffs.
Former CU head coach Rick Neuheisel holds the same job with the Bruins and former CU offensive lineman Kai Maiava is a starting offensive lineman with the program this year.
Scott will have to sit out one year under NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility remaining as a fourth-year junior in 2011.
Scott's decision does not come at a good time for Hawkins and his assistants.
They are under assault from an angry fan base over the team's performance this season and a 2-6 record. The toll it is taking on Hawkins was evident when he met with reporters and television cameras briefly after Tuesday's practice.
When asked if he was surprised by Scott's decision, Hawkins said, "I was, but I don't really have a comment about it."
He was asked several follow up questions and answered each the same way.
"I don't really have a comment about it."
Athletic director Mike Bohn said he was disappointed to hear the news. He is scheduled to meet with Scott today to hear the player's explanation as to why he wants to leave CU.
When Smith initially decided to transfer last spring, Bohn gave Smith a release from his scholarship, but only to Southern California initially. Bohn later expanded the list of schools where Smith could transfer. Bohn said it was premature Tuesday to say if there would be any limits on Scott's release.
Running backs coach Darian Hagan said Scott's decision caught him by surprise. But Hagan admitted he had talked with Scott on several occasions in recent months about previous rumors of a transfer.
"I didn't find out the way I thought I deserved to find out," Hagan said. "It's unfortunate he decided he had to leave. He has to do what he has to do, but I just wish he did it in a different way."
Scott has said that his relationship with Hagan and the fact that his uncle was a Buff were the two biggest reasons he decided to join the CU program. After making his decision to end the recruiting process, Scott said Hagan was like a father figure in his life.
"I had no idea he was even thinking about it," Hagan said. "I've asked him on different occasions, 'Was he OK? Was he thinking about transferring?' Because I heard people saying stuff. I told him to be a man about it and look me in the eye. He said, 'No, coach. I never thought about it.'"
Scott was the nation's top running back recruit in the 2008 recruiting class out of St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif. He chose Colorado over Texas on national signing day during a live television broadcast in which he donned a CU baseball cap and left the Longhorns cap on the table.
Earlier this season, following the Buffs' loss to Texas in Austin, Scott was the last CU player off the field. He mingled with members of the Texas team for several minutes while it celebrated after his teammates left the field.
It is the second time in the past decade Colorado has successfully recruited the nation's top running back only to see that player fight injuries during his time in the program and ultimately transfer. Marcus Houston came to Boulder in 2000 and ultimately finished his career at Colorado State.
Scott had even less success than Houston enjoyed. Scott played in 11 games as a true freshman last fall, rushing 87 times for 343 yards. He scored one touchdown in the 2008 season opener against CSU.
He played second fiddle to Rodney Stewart, a much-less heralded member of the 2008 recruiting class, throughout his time in Boulder. Stewart once again quickly earned the bulk of the playing time this season. Scott had 23 carries for 96 yards and no scores.
Stewart said he and other teammates had heard rumors Scott was considering leaving the team and they had asked him about the rumors on multiple occasions.
"We've been asking him questions and coach Hagan all season, and he's been denying it," Stewart said. "To finally hear that he really did transfer or wanted to transfer was a shocker."
Stewart said he liked Scott and got along well with him but didn't build a brotherly bond with him. He said Scott's departure won't really affect him.
"For me it really doesn't mean nothing," Stewart said. "We're driving on a long bus on a long road. He's just one of the guys who jumped off. The bus don't stop moving."
Scott became an effective kickoff returner, inheriting one of the jobs his uncle left behind when he decided to transfer. Scott had returned 21 kickoffs for 564 yards this season, but he was injured on the opening kickoff of the second game of the season at Toledo and recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to clean up some debris in the joint. He was expected back for next week's game at Iowa State.
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