FORT WAYNE – Crazy how things worked out for Saint Francis junior receiver Aaron Knight.
A serious injury as a high school running back probably turned him into the kind of college receiver hes become.
When I was a sophomore in (Chesterton) high school in a junior varsity game, I tore everything in my left elbow, said Knight. For like eight months, I couldnt use this arm – he slightly lifts his left elbow – so I would catch with my right arm every day in practice. I got super good at catching just with my right arm.
Once this arm got better – left elbow goes up again – I put them both together. That helped out a little bit.
With the ultra-quick Austin Coleman on one side of the field, drawing attention from opponents secondaries and their defensive coordinators, and redshirt freshman Akeim Kelsaw going from stud at Snider to stud with Saint Francis, Knight has been the Cougars other receiver – the one who drifts in behind Colemans rooster-tail wake and catches nearly everything thrown in his vicinity.
Obviously (Coleman) does a lot of vertical routes and a lot of deep routes, which opens it up for my underneath routes or crossing routes to go under him, Knight said. He gets a lot of attention, which makes it easier for me.
If theres such a thing as a breakout game in the middle of a junior season, Knights moment came in Saint Francis back-and-forth 45-38 loss to No. 1-ranked Marian, when he had 10 receptions for 119 yards.
We were 13 of 16 on third down conversions, Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. He was involved in five of them.
On 3rd-and-9, quarterback David Yoder found Knight for 15 yards; 3rd-and-6, 13 yards; 3rd-and-10 for 13; 3rd-and-5 for 9; 3rd-and-8 for 10.
He moved more yards of chain than a ships anchor.
We trust him to get open probably more than anyone weve got, Yoder said. If hes open, and I get him the ball anywhere in his radius, hes going to get his hands on it and hes going to catch it.
The football term for his kind is possession receiver. Its what made former Oakland Raiders mid-sized receiver Fred Biletnikoff a Hall of Famer. And its Biletnikoff whose name is associated with the award given to college footballs top receiver.
I dont get annoyed with it, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound Knight said of the possession receiver tag. Thats pretty much what Im considered, and Im OK with that. Thats my role. I think Im pretty good at it, and its working.
Notes: Senior Austin Coleman was selected NAIA special teams player of the week and MSFA special teams player of the week after his NAIA record-tying seventh career kickoff return for a touchdown Saturday in a 28-19 win at William in Oskaloosa, Iowa. The Cougars moved up to No. 7 from No. 9 in the NAIA Football Coaches Top 25.