Sometimes, things aren’t always as they appear.
The college football world was reminded of that on Aug. 22 when Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops made a shocking announcement via The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, not front-runner Blake Bell, would be the starting quarterback for the Sooners this fall.
Who saw that one coming?
Oklahoma opens their season this Saturday at home against Louisiana-Monroe. That leaves fans little to no time to get acquainted with the young gunslinger.
No worries, B/R has got you covered.
Weight: 202 pounds
Year: Freshman (RS)
Awards/Watch List for 2013: None
A San Antonio native, Knight grew up a diehard Texas Longhorns fan. He really had no choice with a Texas alumnus and lifelong Longhorns supporter as a father.
After starring at Reagan High for four years, Knight did the unthinkable: He committed to Texas-rival Oklahoma.
Now, as the starting quarterback, the entire Knight family will have to put their former alliances aside and hope the redshirt freshman can lead the Sooners past every opponent in their way—including the Longhorns.
Knight made himself known in 2011 during his senior year at Reagan High in San Antonio, Texas.
The 6'1" quarterback threw for 27 touchdowns and 2,092 yards with just three interceptions. He also amassed 943 yards and 15 scores on the ground. That followed up an equally as impressive junior campaign in 2010—1,629 passing yards (11 touchdowns) and 1,050 rushing yards (22 touchdowns).
For his play, Knight was named a 4-star recruit by ESPN, 247 Sports, Rivals and other recruiting outlets. He originally committed to Texas A&M in the spring of 2011, but later switched his commitment to Oklahoma before his senior year.
In 2012, Knight redshirted as a freshman.
He spent the year working on the scout team for the Sooners. Knight’s commitment and skills drew praise from both coaches and players alike. He was eventually named one of Oklahoma’s Scout Team Players of the Year.
This spring, Knight battled with junior Blake Bell and sophomore Kendal Thompson to replace the graduated Landry Jones at the quarterback position. However, with Thompson suffering a foot injury, the competition was down to just two.
Although Bell was seen as the front-runner, Knight was surprisingly named the starter by head coach Bob Stoops on Aug. 22.
Knight’s dual-threat ability as a quarterback is one of the things that really make him stand out.
Last season, prior to Oklahoma’s Cotton Bowl matchup against Texas A&M, Knight assumed the role of Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel on the scout team. Not only did he do a tremendous impersonation of the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, burning the defense time and time again, but he also proved he has the potential to chase the trophy over the next couple of years.
It’s a journey that begins this weekend.
In the only real film on the freshman as of yet, Knight held his own during the annual red/white game in the spring, passing for 81 yards and a touchdown. His elusiveness and ability to make smart decisions with the ball in his hands—only three interceptions compared to 27 touchdowns as a senior in high school—will definitely be a asset for the Sooners during the 2013 season.
Then there’s the fact that Knight is just a freshman.
If we’re being honest, Oklahoma’s chances of winning the BCS title this year just aren’t very strong. The team has lost seven defensive starters on a unit that already struggled and will be looking to replace the school’s career leader in passing. It will take some time for the Sooners to get back to their peak.
As for Knight, he’s not immune to making mistakes himself. He had a costly fumble in the spring game at the goal line that resulted in a touchdown for the defense. Knight will also have several tough road tests this year.
He will make mistakes in 2013. However, by the end of the season, Knight should be primed to keep Oklahoma in the national title picture for the next three years.
Ash and the Longhorns could make Knight's Red River debut a miserable one.
Knight’s three key games will be in succession.
Sept. 28 at No. 11 Notre Dame
This game not only marks the first road game of Oklahoma’s season but also the first of the young quarterback’s career.
Beating the Irish has never been an easy task for the Sooners—they’re just 1-9 all time against Notre Dame. But beating them in South Bend with a freshman quarterback? That may be asking a little too much.
However, with the Irish without Everett Golson and Manti Te’o this time around, Oklahoma might have a chance to pull off the upset. It would be revenge for last year’s 30-13 whooping Notre Dame handed to the Sooners on their home field.
Win or lose, expect Knight to grow up a great deal by the final whistle.
Oct. 5 vs. No. 20 TCU
This game is key for two possible reasons.
Either Knight will be fresh off leading the Sooners to a significant road upset over last season’s title game runners-up, or he will be coming off a night where his team was exposed as young and inexperienced. Regardless, Knight will have no time to bask in the glory or feel bad for himself because another tough opponent will be up next.
Last year, in a 24-17 loss, the Horned Frogs gave Oklahoma a fierce contest. With the return of quarterback Casey Pachall, TCU will be an even tougher out.
This is a big game for Knight.
Oct. 12 vs. No. 15 Texas
This game is always a big one for these two longtime rivals. It becomes even bigger because Knight, who grew up a diehard Longhorns fan, will be making his first start in the series.
Luckily, his Sooners have the edge, having won three straight against Texas. That includes humiliating blowouts of 63-21 and 55-17 the past two years.
However, the Longhorns should be a much-improved team this season. The game should be a lot more closely contested this year.
It will be interesting to see how Knight handles the pressure and attention that comes with a big-time rivalry game such as this one.
Stoops shocked the college football world with his announcement last Thursday.
Since the surprising announcement that Knight would be Oklahoma's new starting quarterback, everyone has had their say on the youngster.
Both Trevor and Blake have competed hard and both will be ready to play against Louisiana-Monroe. Like every other position on our team, I expect them both to continue competing for the starting job.
Bob Stoops, Head Coach
Upset of the preseason? A redshirt frosh beats out the Belldozer at OU.
Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated
Stoops' last two starting QBs started as redshirt freshmen. One (Bradford) went on to win the Heisman, the other (Jones) career passing leader.
Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated
I was like ‘this kid is unreal. Why is he doing this to us?’ I’m not mad at him—we need the look. But at the same time, you’re like ‘Trevor, you throw another pass like that, I’m going to hit you in the back of the head.’
I’m telling you, Trevor is going to be good. Trevor is going to be really good.”
R.J. Washington, former defensive end (Dec. 21, 2012)
Could Knight give Oklahoma it's third Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback since 2003?
He may have given a solid Johnny Manziel impression on Oklahoma’s scout team during Cotton Bowl preparations, but it might be a little too optimistic to think that Knight could reproduce Manziel’s freshman campaign from last year. If anything, he might come close to it, but that’s it.
Consider Knight a poor-man’s Manziel, if you will.
Ever since being dominated by Texas A&M last season, the Sooners coaching staff has fantasized about adding a little more mobility to the quarterback position. They wanted to have a guy whose feet were just as dangerous as his arm.
While Blake Bell was able to pound the ball, he was more of a short-yardage back. Knight has the elusiveness to make defenses always be on their heels wondering about a possible quarterback scramble.
As for his stats, look for Knight to throw for around 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns with around 12 interceptions. On the ground, he could rush for close to 700 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Knight’s play won’t be enough to gain any national attention, but he should earn himself Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors. Not to mention, he would set himself up to be a dark-horse contender for the 2014 Heisman Trophy.