At 6 feet 2, 190 pounds, Sean Scott was not exactly what most Division I-A football coaches were looking for in defensive ends four years ago. Most coaches look for guys who can handle the 6-4, 240-pound tight end who runs 40 yards in 4.7 seconds or the 6-6, 260-pound tackle who bench-presses Delaware.

Scott, a two-time All-Met and 1983 Washington-area defensive player of the year, found that out the hard way. Some big-time schools were interested in him, but many had doubts. Now, they, too, have found out the hard way.

At 6-3, 207, Scott still isn't the prototype defensive end. But there probably aren't many college coaches who wouldn't take him.

"He's as intense a football player as there is," said Tony Whittlesey, who recruited Scott for Virginia, and helped coach him for three years before moving on to Maryland.

"He's just one of those guys that will just go out and kick your butt," said Bruce Patrick, the coach at Alexandria's Mount Vernon High School, where Scott played center and nose guard, ending his career with 255 tackles, 35 sacks and five blocked punts.

"He's the kind of kid who looks at you through his eyebrows on Saturday morning," said Virginia defensive ends coach Art Markos. "He's overcome size and speed differentials because he's a football player, plain and simple -- a football player."

Something like a combination of former Redskins cornerback Pat Fischer and the Tasmanian Devil? "Yeah, something like that," Markos replied with a laugh.

"I, like, zero in on things," Scott said. "I know that if I relax, it's going to hurt me. I'm not one of those athletes who can afford to ever feel complacent. I know I can always do better and that's what I always try to do."

That attitude has allowed Scott to be a starter in each of his four seasons at Virginia and a captain the last two, making him the Cavaliers' first two-year captain in more than 20 years. He was an honorable mention all-America as a sophomore and he's the school's fourth all-time leading tackler.

"He's a very intelligent kid and he understands how important leadership is to a team," Patrick said. "He's always wanted to become a great football player and he's never let anything interfere with that. He didn't play any other sports in high school and he didn't allow the things that get in the way of normal kids to get in his way."

"I don't know how he's been able to maintain that focus," Markos said. "All I can say is that football is very important to him and that he's been able to put a lot of energy into it for a lot of years and not get burned out like some kids."

Scott has also been able to overcome a program that, until this season, has gotten progressively worse since his freshman season, when the Cavaliers went 8-2-2 and won the Peach Bowl.

"I knew I was taking a chance by coming here," said Scott, who was heavily recruited by Virginia Tech. "But I thought it would be a growing program. The first year, obviously, was great. My sophomore year wasn't too bad {Virginia was 6-5}, but last year was a real disappointment."

The Cavaliers, who had so many injury and depth problems that Scott played four positions, ended up 3-8 and seriously questioning themselves.

"I think we got discouraged in a lot of games last year and I think part of the reason for that was I didn't do a good enough job leading the team," he said.

So far this year, things have improved. The Cavaliers played well in season-opening losses to No. 16 Georgia and at Maryland, and have since won three consecutive games.

"This season has been something of a redemption for me and for all of us, so far," Scott said. "We're starting to enjoy ourselves again."

A victory at No. 8 Clemson today would make the Cavaliers fairly delirious, Scott particularly so. Virginia has never beaten the Tigers, going 0-26. And Scott, whose brother Jimmy played defensive end for Clemson from 1981 to '83, had thought of attending the school before Coach Danny Ford's staff lost interest.

"I don't know if I would have ended up going there," Scott said, "but for me, personally, Clemson is always a very important game."