• John Macon Gillespie

Remember The Name: Clayton Knight

I arrived in Saltillo, Mississippi on Friday night excited. I had been hearing about a young quarterback named Clayton Knight for a while. I was ready to check him out for myself. He certainly lived up to the hype and even showed me some things I was not expecting.

After emerging onto the scene last year as a sophomore, Knight established himself as one of the best playmakers in the state. This year his team is a bit younger. The Tigers are still learning and growing as a team under the tutelage of Head Coach Pat Byrd. You can tell they are a talented bunch, with the potential to break out next season in a stacked division.

Back to our man Clayton, specifically, though. Here is a breakdown of what he showed me on and off the field on Friday night.

The biggest thing that stood out to me was that he was gracious enough to give me an interview following the tough defeat to division foe Oxford. He spoke very candidly and could not have presented himself in a more positive manner. He spoke about things his team could do and what they had to play for down the stretch. He was also quick to point out that he and his teammates had their eyes on making a move next season. I cannot thank him enough for giving me an interview after I had really made the trip to see him.

On the field, it was hard to keep your eyes on number 5. The ball would be snapped and before you know it he would be running around, just before zipping it through a tight window to a waiting receiver.

When rolling out, Knight usually favored his right. It was easy to see why after he made a few throws while on the run in that direction. He was able to really spin the ball and zip it into tight spaces when the situation called for it or put just the right touch on other throws.

Even more impressive is that when Knight was rolling to his right, most times he was being chased by Oxford defensive end Korbin Harmon, a player destined for the D1 level as a pass rusher.

He didn’t only roll right, however. He was able to create some room on the ground when he rolled left or ran through the middle of the field. His athleticism was impressive but it contributed more to him being able to buy time and throw than it did his ability to gain yards on the ground. When he did put his head down and run the ball, however, he was able to gain chunks of yardage.

There were also a few times he was able to take the snap and drop back and let the ball go like a normal passing play. On these occasions are when he was able to really show his arm. He overthrew a couple of deep passes, but man were they pretty. The ball really jumps out of his hand and he throws a beam on his downfield throws. One particular throw in the third quarter looked destined to be a score but went just by the hands of an outstretched receiver. It was clear He and his targets were more comfortable with chaos than with passing plays that were run how they were drawn up.

On a team that is still growing into what it can be, Clayton Knight stands out as a piece the Tigers can rally around. This will be a big offseason for Knight, Byrd and the Tigers towards achieving their goals next season.

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