Coming into his senior year, Harvard running back Treavor Scales wasn’t satisfied.
“This last season wasn’t everything that I wanted it to be,” said the senior before the start of the year. “I’m just looking forward to just hitting my stride.”
With an Ivy League Rookie of the Year title under his belt, a team-high 816 rushing yards in 2011, and All-Ivy League selections every year of his career, no one could deny the success that Scales had entering his last season as a Crimson tailback.
But the running back may have saved his best for last—and hit his stride in his final year in a Harvard uniform.
“Treavor’s had a tremendous year,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy says. “We’re a very balanced and multiple-offense [team], so we don’t just rely on the running game, but we’ve got the best running back in the Ivy League, the most complete player, and a great leader.”
With only The Game remaining, the tailback has cemented his place in Harvard’s record books. Scales has 12 rushing touchdowns this year, four more than his previous personal best. With his touchdown against Penn on Saturday, the back is now tied with Clifton Dawson ’07 for fifth place in Harvard history in single-season rushing touchdowns. He also has tallied 825 yards this year, moving ahead of Gino Gordon ’11 and into the fourth-place spot on the career rushing yards list in the Crimson record book. Against the league’s second-worst rushing defense in Yale, Scales will have one more chance to pad that total.
But for Scales, The Game—and the record—aren’t the most valuable takeaways from his last season.
“As far as the record goes, [Gordon] said if anybody broke it, he’d rather it be me, and it meant a lot for him to say that,” Scales says. “But to be honest, it wasn’t even a goal on my mind at the beginning of the season; it was just to have fun. This [record] is just the result of having fun.”
During his first two collegiate seasons, the Stone Mountain, Ga., native was behind Gordon on the depth chart, and split time the following season with then-freshman running back Zach Boden. Now, in his senior year, with Gordon having graduated and Boden out for the year, Scales is unquestionably the go-to back for Harvard.
Scales had an explosive start to his final season in a Crimson uniform, averaging 130 yards per game and scoring six touchdowns during the first three games of the year. Although his numbers have since waned, he is still averaging over 90 yards in each contest, and the drop is something Murphy attributes to his team’s balanced offense.
“Our philosophy is to be balanced and take what people give us,” Murphy says. “We try to keep [Scales] fresh and healthy as well, and the combination of those [aspects] has led to a really outstanding season.”
For those who have practiced with Scales day in and day out since his arrival at Harvard, his success has not been surprising.
“It has to go back to how hard Treavor works,” says senior offensive lineman Jack Holuba. “The hours he puts in, watching film, [and] how hard he worked with us in the summer, it clearly shows that he’s such a mature back. He completely understands what the offense is trying to do—he protects, he runs hard, and he’s one of those guys that everybody on the team loves.”
The team may love Scales, but they hate bringing him down in practice.
“We do try to tackle him [in practice] when we go against him in pass protection,” Lyon says. “And that’s one of those times where he’s definitely tough to take down.... Usually it’s a lot easier to tackle a running back, but Treavor’s always going to put in his nose and get you on each and every play, and he loves to do it.”