There are better pro prospects, but nobody plays role of ‘quarterback’ better than Trevor Knight

Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) passes the football against Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

There are better pro prospects, but nobody plays role of ‘quarterback’ better than Trevor Knight

If Trevor Knight can’t make it in the NFL, then he potentially has a lucrative career in front of him as a speaker on college campuses.

So what’s the title of his seminar? “How to Handle Yourself as a Quarterback at a Big-Time Football Program.” Rare is it to find someone who handled both the highs and lows of playing the game’s most important position with more style and grace.

He was an overnight superstar at Oklahoma as a freshman, knocking off Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in spectacular fashion. But by junior year, he was benched in favor of Baker Mayfield. The only thing more classy than his exit from Norman was his entrance to College Station. Knight ruffled exactly zero feathers for one season at Texas A&M.

Now preparing for the NFL Draft, he isn’t considered a premier prospect at the next level. There’s even been talk — not from him, though — of a move from under center out to receiver or maybe to the other side of the ball at safety.

In this exclusive interview, Knight talks about his college experience, the pre-draft process and just how important it is for him to be a QB.

Saturday Down South: If I open up your closet at home, am I more likely to see Texas A&M gear or Oklahoma gear?

Trevor Knight: Currently, you’ll see Texas A&M gear. I packed up all the OU gear when I left Norman and haven’t got those bags back out yet. One day, it’ll hopefully be split down the middle.

SDS: I’m a Florida State guy, so I’ll always associate myself with that school to some degree. How do you think that’s going to be for you as you get older, a year or 10 years or 25 years down the road, having gone to and played for two schools?

TK: Well, I spent four years at Oklahoma. I got my degree from there. Like you said, it’ll always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to going back to games there for the rest of my life. I’ve got great teammates there, great friends there, great connections there and, really, nothing to be upset about even after I left there.

I also had a tremendous senior year at Texas A&M and getting my master’s here. So you look at it from kind of the education standpoint, a lot of people will go to an undergrad somewhere and then get their master’s elsewhere. So I can kind of play both sides of it. I look forward to that because, like I said, I have a great group of friends, teammates and connections at both of these schools that I can lean on throughout the rest of my life.

Oct 1, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) makes a big rush against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

SDS: When you left Oklahoma, be it from teammates to students to the horrors of social media, what percentage of your interactions were “good luck” and what percentage were “well, good riddance because we have Baker Mayfield”?

TK: I would say at that point, because it had already been a year into Baker starting and those types of things … we just came off the College Football Playoff, and I personally felt like I handled everything the correct way.

I would say I really didn’t receive any negative comments. Most of it was all positive, wishing me the best of luck and those types of things, which was great. That was awesome for me to get that support from all the people at Oklahoma. I even got to go back to Norman for two games this year, and I still felt that support. I’m really thankful for all of those fans and just the Oklahoma community in general.

SDS: Similarly, when you arrived at Texas A&M, whether it was the coaching staff, the boosters at the luncheons or the crazies in the crowd, how much “welcome to the family” did you get as opposed to “we don’t need you”?

TK: Again, I would say it was almost 100-percent positive. Everybody was excited about me being here. I felt like the A&M community really wrapped their arms around me from the get-go. And that was really comforting for me coming to a new place, kind of taking the leap of faith to leave my twin brother (Connor) and my group of friends and a program that had just went to the College Football Playoff to come here kind of to the unknown waters.

They wrapped their arms around me, really made me feel welcome and gave me a lot of confidence coming in here for my last year.

SDS: What’s been the best part of the pre-draft evaluation experience so far? It’s not always an enjoyable few months.

TK: Really, for me it’s kind of a culmination of all of it. I’m just enjoying the ride, enjoying this wave, if you will, and riding it the best that I can. This is a dream of mine since I was a little kid. In this season of life right now, I’m not waking up and going to class every day. I’m not in school. I’m not waking up and putting on a suit and tie and going and working a nine-to-five job. I get to wake up every day and go work out and throw the football around.

It really is a cool little season of life, and I’m chasing it with everything I have. Here we are about a month away, or less than that now, from the draft. I’m hoping and praying that my name gets called because that would be an awesome deal. But, really, I just want a shot to go and compete with the team and hopefully make the most of it.

SDS: So what’s been the worst part of the pre-draft evaluation journey? Has a coach asked you an offensive question or a scout rubbed you the wrong way?

Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

TK: I really don’t think there is any negatives. I guess one thing is just the waiting — waiting around, waiting on the phone calls for teams to come work you out, waiting for the draft to come because you kind of just want to know. I’ve always been a person that liked to plan things out and have a good plan. But a month from now I could be anywhere from Seattle, Washington, to Miami, Florida, and anywhere in between, so it’s kind of just the unknown of it.

On the flip side of that, it’s also kind of fun, too. Again, it’s a dream. You realize that you’re packing up and going off and you’re playing football for a living right now. You’ve just got to take it in stride and enjoy it. So that would really only be the negative thing, is just the wait time and the unknown. Everything else has been smooth and fun and enjoyable.

SDS: There’s been talk about you possibly playing wide receiver. I know you once caught a TD at Oklahoma as a sophomore, but when was the last time you legitimately ran routes and caught passes in a game? High school? Back yard ball with your boys?

TK: I’ve never played receiver in my life. Kind of backtracking a little bit, I’m confident I can go play quarterback in this league, and that’s what I’m doing right now. There’s been talks of other positions because I do have, I think, an athletic skill set. But, again, I’m confident in my abilities as a quarterback. Until we have to cross the bridge to where maybe my only chance is to stick around being a receiver, I’m not going to even worry about that right now.

I think the last time I ran a route was probably, like you said, just playing around in the back yard when I was a little kid or just goofing around in a 7-on-7 session or something like that. Really, I’ve never played receiver or anything like that. I have always been a quarterback, and that’s what I’m chasing.

SDS: Not to ask you the same question a different way, but there’s also been chatter about you potentially playing safety. However, it certainly sounds to me like your entire focus leading up to the draft is throwing passes, not possibly catching them or even intercepting them.

TK: Absolutely. Yeah, exclusively playing quarterback. Like I said, I’m confident I can go play in this league and have gotten the feedback that leads me to believe that and be confident in that. Like I said, if somewhere down the road … hopefully it never happens, or hopefully it’s a long time from now.

If the only shot I have to stick around in the league is to play a different position, and teams think I can do that, then I’ll give it a shot. But, again, I’ve never played receiver. I haven’t played defense since I was in eighth grade, I don’t think, so it’s kind of a shot out of the water for those positions. Again, I’m never going to discount something that’s going to keep me around chasing a dream, but I’m confident in playing quarterback.

SDS: When we read your obituary one day, and hopefully that’s a hundred years from now, when will the word “quarterback” be written? Is it in the first sentence? The second paragraph? Or is it not mentioned at all? How much does that moniker and playing that position mean to you?

TK: Well, that’s what I’ve always done. Like I said, ever since I was in kindergarten, my first year of organized football, I’ve been slinging it around. I love the game. I love the position. I love everything that comes with being a quarterback, and so I think it’s extremely important for that to be part of who I am. It’s just kind of the grand scheme of things in life.

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) celebrates with his teammates after the win over the Tennessee Volunteers at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeated the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If quarterback doesn’t work out for me, if football doesn’t work out for me, that’s going to be just fine. This is a dream, like I said, that I’m chasing with everything I have. I would never discount any part of the significance of what’s going on right now. But it’s not the end-all-be-all for my life, even though I do care about it so much and it brings me a whole lot of joy, quite honestly.

SDS: A genie pops out of a lamp and will grant you one of two wishes. The first is being a backup receiver or safety in the NFL, perhaps a special-teams dynamo. The second is being a starting quarterback, but it’s in the CFL or arena league. Which wish do you choose?

TK: Man, that’s a difficult question to answer.

SDS: That’s why I asked it.

TK: My dream is to play in the NFL, so I guess, like we spoke about before, if I exhaust my ability to play quarterback, and that comes around, I guess stick on a roster in the NFL. We’ll see. We’ll cross all of those bridges when the time comes. Hopefully they never do come, but that’s just kind of the way I’m working it out right now.

* * *

In my time writing about football, I’ve probably done a hundred or so interviews just like this one ahead of the NFL Draft.

While I might get a number from an agent, a lot of players won’t answer the phone. Some won’t return text messages. Worst of all, too many are simply unintelligible when responding to my questions. I’m forced to make lemonade more often than I’d like.

Knight replied to every text in a timely manner. When I called at the designated hour, he picked up on the first ring — my mother doesn’t even do that. Each and every one of my questions was greeted by a young man full of hopes and dreams, not to mention poise and polish. He could work for SEC Network tomorrow as an analyst.

This is why nobody said a bad word about him on his way out of Oklahoma. This is why he morphed from graduate transfer to team leader seemingly overnight at Texas A&M. You can poke holes in his game, but his character is leakproof.

As for that TV gig, whether it materializes in a year or a decade remains to be seen. But for now, Knight is still a quarterback.


John Crist is the senior writer for Saturday Down South, a member of the FWAA and a voter for the Heisman Trophy. Send him an e-mail, like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.