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 he’s 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 couldn’t 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 Coleman’s 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 there’s such a thing as a breakout game in the middle of a junior season, Knight’s 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 ship’s anchor.
We trust him to get open probably more than anyone we’ve got, Yoder said. If he’s open, and I get him the ball anywhere in his radius, he’s going to get his hands on it and he’s going to catch it.
The football term for his kind is possession receiver. It’s what made former Oakland Raiders mid-sized receiver Fred Biletnikoff a Hall of Famer. And it’s Biletnikoff whose name is associated with the award given to college football’s top receiver.
I don’t get annoyed with it, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound Knight said of the possession receiver tag. That’s pretty much what I’m considered, and I’m OK with that. That’s my role. I think I’m pretty good at it, and it’s 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.